This summer is the year of road trips. Before going, road trippers will want to preform maintenance on their car. Here is a checklist of things you can do, as well as what your local auto shop can help with in preparation of the big adventure.

DIY Suggestions

  • Familiarize yourself with your car’s features by looking over the owner’s manual before hitting the road. It can be nerve wracking, to say the least, to have a warning light pop on when you are several hundred miles from home. If you know what the light means, you’ll be able to tell if it’s an emergency and you need to stop at a station or not.
  • This is somewhat obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Be sure you are up to date on your car insurance and driver’s license. If you’re in an accident, being current will make the process easier.
  • Check the spare tire. If the vehicle has a spare tire, ensure it is full of air and all the tools necessary to replace it are in the vehicle as well. Note – some newer vehicles do not come with a spare tire!
  • If you will be traveling through states with a tollway, investigate purchasing a temporary pass. The pass will reduce the time you spend waiting in line to pay toll fees.
  • Check your lights and replace bulbs if necessary. A burnt-out taillight is a common reason for getting pulled over at night. A little bit of time spent at home before you leave can save a lot of time later.
  • Try not to put luggage over the car. Luggage on top of the car creates air friction and slows the car down which also lowers your gas mileage.
  • Check the levels of your oil, wiper fluid, and tire pressure. These last-minute checks are important.

In the Auto Shop

 

  • Change oil and oil filter. Oil keeps a vehicle lubricated and avoids friction damage to the engine.
  • Coolant replacement and radiator flush. The recommended frequency will be in your owner’s manual, but typically a radiator flush should be done every 5 years or 100,000 miles driven.
  • Brake pads. Even if there isn’t noise coming from your car, it is important to get brake pads checked before a long trip.
  • Test the battery. Batteries can go bad in the summer just like they do in the winter. If your battery is between 4 and 6 years old, it is likely nearing the end of its life. Home battery testers will do the trick, but this is also an easy thing to request at your service station when you are in for a routine oil change.
  • Tire rotation. The general rule is to rotate your tires every other oil change. If you haven’t followed this general schedule, now is a good time to have this done. It will extend the life of your tires and provide a smoother ride on your trip.