Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preparing your car for a trip

So, I had a thought this morning- I am willing to wager that you and your family have planned a vacation for the summer.  Perhaps you have already gone…perhaps you haven’t!   I know a lot of folks fly to their destination, but others (myself included) prefer traveling by car.  

Here are a few tips to ensure a car that is ready to hit the road! 

Take the time to clean the inside of the windshield before your trip.  Sometimes at night the glare of a dirty windshield is about blinding and can make traveling downright dangerous.  This only takes a few moments and is easy to do. 
Be sure to refill your windshield washer fluid and keep a bottle in the trunk.  Bugs, mud, rain spray from the road, and heaven knows what else pelt your windshield.  To keep your visibility up, be sure to fill up the reserve tank before you go! 
Check tire pressure.  Okay, so I know cars after 2008 or 2009 or something like that all have to have tire pressure monitors in the vehicle, but for those of you who are driving an older vehicle, take the time to run over to the gas station and make sure your tires are pumped up.  You can buy a tire gauge at any auto parts store, Walmart, and probably even places like Dollar General.  Just unscrew the cap on the valve stem and stick it on there.  Your tire pressure will read on the stick.  Then inflate/deflate as necessary.   There’s actually a sticker on the inside of the door that tells you the best pressure to fill the tires to.  You really don’t want to over or under inflate them.  Gas mileage will go down and excessive tire wear will happen.  No one wants to buy tires more often than they have to…or fill up the tank, for that matter. 
Check fluids.  Pull out the oil dipstick, wipe it down, stick it back in there, and pull it out again.  Make sure that the oil level is where it should be.  Do the same for brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid.  If you are unsure, you can always take your car to a mechanic for a quick “check-up” to make sure it’s ready to hit the road, but it’s really easy to do any of these items.  You, your hubby, probably even your kids could do any of them. 
Check life of oil.  Do you need an oil change?  If you do, take it into the shop, or go buy yourself a filter and some oil.  My car lists what type of oil is best for the engine right on the engine cover.  Check your owner’s manual if you don’t know.  Most vehicles take 5W-30 or 10W-30, but I know our older vans used to take straight 30W, so it’s best to check.  You don’t want to risk ruining your engine.  (Of course, if you take it to the Jiffy Lube, they’ll know what type of oil you need anyway, so you won’t have to worry about it at all!)
This isn’t a safety tip as much as it is just a nicety, but clean out your vehicle before a long trip.  Take a bag out with you and get rid of any soda bottles, wrappers, leftover cheerios, used tissues, etc.  Wipe off the dash with a dust rag. 
Finally, use common sense.  If you have a vehicle that isn’t up for the trip, don’t take it.  If the transmission slips, it leaks oil like a sieve, if it overheats daily on your trip to the office…you should probably think about either renting a vehicle or just not going.  It’s not going to be worth the headache of making it halfway and having the engine blow or the transmission completely fail. 
Well, that’s about it.  I hope you’re enjoying your summer and I hope that someone is actually helped by some of these steps.  Most are just common sense things, but a refresher never hurts. 
We are planning on driving up to the Adirondacks in 2 weeks for our vacation, so I know we will be doing some of these things to our truck.  Hopefully we’ll be in for a hassle-free trip. 

Have a great day and thanks for reading! 

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God bless you!