Summer is finally here and for many families its time to hit the road for their summer vacation. If you are loading up the mini-van and driving to your vacation spot you want to make sure that your ride is safe and ready to go. Family road trips can be hard enough without adding the additional stress of a breakdown. Sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck is not only boring, it can be dangerous so make sure your vehicle is up to the task. Here are just a few things to have checked out:
Tires – This is probably the most important thing to have checked before you hit the open road. The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) found that nine percent of U.S passenger cars have at least one bald tire, which dramatically increases the odds of a blowout. A blowout at highway speeds can have a devastating result.
Check both tire pressure as well as tread depth. You can pick up a pressure and tread depth gauge at most auto supply stores. Consult your owner’s manual for proper tire pressure and check that all tires including the spare have at least 2/3” of tread depth. You should replace any tire that does not meet these requirements. Verify your jack is in the car and in good working order.
Fluid Levels – Checking all fluid levels is key. You may want to have a professional handle this work. Make sure the oil and coolant levels are topped up and if your vehicle is almost due for an oil change this would be a great time to get it done. Coolant is just as important as oil so make sure the reservoir is full and check for any sign of leakage. Power steering, brake, transmission and windshield wiper fluid levels should be checked as well. Have any leaks repaired before your journey starts.
Air Conditioning – Summer road trips often involve soaring temperatures so be sure that your air conditioning is up the task of keeping everyone cool. If your system is not blowing cold air you will want to have it checked out and repaired before you get on the road. You A/C system is one thing that you don’t want to break down in the middle of your trip so deal with any problems now.
Lights – Road trips involve driving all hours of the day or night so make sure other drivers can see you. Verify that all the lights on your car are in proper working order, including interior lights, brake lights and turn signals. If any of them are burned out or not working have them repaired before you leave. If you will be towing a trailer check all trailer lights and connections.
Emergency Kit – Every car headed out for a long trip should have a well-stocked emergency kit in it. You never know when an emergency will happen and being prepared is always the best policy. A small tool kit is recommended, as is plenty of drinking water. If you are headed into remote areas be sure to pack survival supplies.
A summer road trip can be an unforgettable experience but a breakdown or blowout can put a big damper on your trip so make sure your vehicle is safe before you pull out of the driveway.