Regular vehicle checkups are an important part of routine maintenance on any car or truck, but it is especially valuable to do one before an extended road trip. Not only will you save time, cost, and aggravation by not breaking down, but you will also extend the useful life of your vehicle. Here are the top five things for you or your mechanic to check:
Check the tires – Proper inflation and acceptable wear are what you are looking for when inspecting your vehicle’s tires. Tire gauges are quite easy to use, and your owner’s manual will tell you what the proper inflation pressure should be. Most gas stations provide a self-service area where you can perform the task, but most mechanics or tire shops will perform the service for free. As for wear, a penny should be inserted head first into the thinnest groove found in the tire. If you can still see all of President Lincoln’s head, then the tires should be replaced.
Top off or change the fluids –If you are properly maintaining your vehicle, your oil is most likely acceptable. Still it is a good idea to have it checked along with the power steering, transmission, and brake fluids as well as the water in the radiator and washer-fluid reservoir. Also, do not overlook the air conditioning coolant, if you will be traveling at one of the warmer times of the year. Finally, if you can spare the storage space, it is not a bad idea to store some extra fluids in the vehicle’s trunk, in case of an emergency.
Inspect the brakes – This part of the inspection is immensely important and should be conducted by a professional (unless you are absolutely certain that you know what you are doing). While it only takes ten minutes or so to actually inspect the brakes, it may take a day or two for the mechanic to replace the faulty ones if he is busy. So, have the inspection done well ahead of the day you are scheduled to depart.
Have the battery tested – Another quick and easy vehicle checkup that should be conducted is a battery test. Your local auto parts store can do one for you in a matter of minutes and usually, at no charge. They will simply remove the cables from the battery and attach a multimeter to it. Usually, the battery will give a reading of 12.6 volts or above if in good condition. If not, it is a fairly simple operation to replace the battery then and there.
Tune-up the engine – Brand new cars, those five years older or less, usually, only need a tune-up every 100,000 miles. As the car ages, you should consider having it done on a more frequent basis to ensure the best gas mileage and reliability. Veteran mechanics can usually tell just from the sound of your engine whether or not it is running well, but their experience will probably cost you a nominal fee. Still, it is well worth the expense, if you are planning on a road trip that will take you far from home.
Two other minor things you might consider checking are your GPS navigator and getting the car detailed. Both of these last things are not essentials, but they will definitely make your trip significantly more enjoyable. For further information on properly inspecting and prepping your vehicle for your next road trip, please contact us at Z-One. We can be found online at Z-OneToledo.com or reached directly at 419.478.3402.