Deep down you know your car should be checked before hitting the road, but with so many other things to do, some folks put it off. Bad idea, says the Car Care Council, an automotive consumer education group, especially when motorists don’t realize that in as little as 10 minutes, they can determine if their car is ready for long-distance travel.
Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, lose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
“In a very short amount of time, motorists can identify how road-ready their vehicle is and then take steps to have the problems fixed before heading out for vacation,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It’s a small sacrifice compared to the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down many miles away from home.”
The council also recommends that wipers and interior and exterior lighting be checked prior to a road trip, and that motorists restock their emergency kit. As a rule of thumb, wipers should be replaced every six months and lighting should be checked monthly.