Before you load up your family and pets this spring or summer for a road trip in the family vehicle, ask yourself, “Is my vehicle ready?”
You are about to make memories for a lifetime; just be sure they are the memories you planned. A family vehicle that is not maintained properly can lead to unpleasant memories. Here are a few things to help you have a fun, uninterrupted road trip.
Change the oil.
The engine oil and filter are the life of your vehicle. I’m often asked: “I will be due for my oil change while I am traveling, should I wait until I get back or have the oil change performed now?” ALWAYS have the oil changed before you leave, and ask your shop to perform a vehicle inspection to make you aware of any potential concerns.
Kick the tires, and don’t forget the spare.
If you perform your own maintenance, check your tires for proper inflation and wear. Don’t forget to check your spare tire. If you are loading up the vehicle with family, you will need to adjust tire pressures higher to carry the heavier load. Your owner’s manual will have the correct pressure listed.
Inspect wiper blades.
This past winter, we experienced a number of snow and heavy frost days. That type of weather can cause damage to your windshield wiper blades. Carefully inspect the rubber blades for tears and nicks, and the metal frame for distortion. A good rule of thumb is to replace your wiper blades once a year, including the one on the rear glass.
Check the fluids.
Make sure the fluids under your vehicle’s fluids hood are at the correct level, and the fluid is in good condition. All fluids become contaminated over time from normal use, and have a service life. Contaminated fluids that are not replaced will shorten the life of the major components they operate, leading to costly repairs that could have been prevented.
Replace lights and bulbs.
Check external lights and replace bulbs that no longer work. Many of today’s vehicles use a type of plastic lens that discolors from exposure to the sun, impacting the correct amount of light it produces. Some of these lenses can be serviced to restore their clarity, while others must be replaced.
Finally, if you do not subscribe to a 24-hour emergency road service, now is the time to search for one, and make sure you save the number in your cellphone.
By Danny Branom, contributing writer and owner/operator of Christian Brothers Automotive in Towne Lake.