Summer Road Trip
Even with the high gas prices, people are planning their summer road trips. It’s essential that you are prepared for your trip and have the right supplies on hand to handle a roadside emergency. Here is a simple checklist to prepare your
family truckster for the long haul.
- Is your car close to needing an oil change? Get the oil changed
just to be safe. Fresh oil will help your engine run cooler and at
peak efficiency. I personally use synthetic oil in my vehicles for it’s long life and superior lubrication. While you are getting your oil changed, make sure that the mechanic greases all of the suspension points and inspects everything under the car for wear.
- Check the air conditioning system, nothing is worse than a family trip with no air conditioning. If your system is not blowing cold like it used to, consider getting it recharged to keep you cool on those hot summer roads.
- Check your tires for tread depth, unusual wear and damage. Nothing
is worse than having a blowout on a Sunday with no place to get a new
tire. Also make sure your tires are properly inflated, this will save
you gas and keep your tires from wearing prematurely. Also make sure
your spare tire is inflated and in good condition. Remember that if you need to use the small “doughnut” spare included in some cars, keep the speed below 50mph and only use the tire to get to the nearest garage to get your original tire fixed or replaced.
- Top off all the fluids under the hood. Windshield washer fluid, power
steering fluid and coolant are the most important. Also make sure you have
extra fluids in the trunk just in case. I usually carry a gallon jug of fresh water from the store. You can use it to fill a radiator or keep you alive if you are stranded and need water.
- Do you have an emergency kit in your car? You should have the basic band-aids, gauze and ointments included in most kits today. You should also have a blanket in the trunk. Flares and flags are also essential for roadside safety.
- A tool kit to fix minor problems is a good idea to have in the trunk also. An adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, and a vice-grips pliers go a long way when stuck on the side of the road. I also carry electrical tape and extra fuses incase any minor electrical problems pop up during the trip.
- Don’t forget a good set of jumper cables for when you leave the lights on, or your battery goes dead. A good set of jumper cables has a heavy gauge wire and sturdy clamps at each end. There are some new cables on the market, which have LED lights to show you if you have the cables hooked up properly. If you can find a set, it’s worth the price to know that you are jumping your car the right way. I get more questions about how to jump-start a car properly.
- How old is your battery? A dead battery is a common problem while on
vacation and a major inconvenience. If it’s older than 3 years, consider
replacing it. While you are under the hood, make sure the terminals are
tight and have a good coat of grease on them. The grease will keep the terminals
from corroding. A mechanic can test your charging system and battery in about 5 minutes. This extra test could save you a lot of headaches on your trip, if something was to go wrong with your charging system.
- Do you belong to a motoring club like AAA? Make sure your membership is current and you have the membership card with you on your trip.
Now that you have everything prepared for your summer road trip, get ready for a million “are we there yet’s and “Daddy I have to Pee” Aahh… the joys of the family vacation !
While I know a lot about cars, I don't know a lot about YOUR CAR! If you are looking for vehicle specific instructions, an online repair manual is the ticket. I recommend Alldata or Mitchell1, but also have some tips to get a free repair manual which while not as complete, can work in a pinch.
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Posted: 1st July 2006 | Author: Kevin Schappell | Category: Car Care, Wheels and Tires