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Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip

Not preparing your car before you take a road trip can definitely bring your vacation to an end. A breakdown can not only cost you a repair bill but also towing charges, possible additional lodging and expenses and it can really mess up your plans and travel time. Before you think about taking a road trip you should make sure your vehicle is completely ready for the trip.  Some preventative maintenance can save you a lot of trouble, frustration and money.

Fluids, Belts and Hoses: Check all of your vehicle's fluid levels. This includes engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid.  If your car is due for a lube, oil and filter then make sure it’s done before you leave. And just to be safe you should do a quick "leak test" in your driveway. Let your engine run for about 15 minutes so it reaches full operating temperature. Then park it over a large piece of cardboard a while and see if any fluids have dripped from underneath it. If there are any leaks check the colour of the liquid and check with your mechanic if needed.

Have all your drive belts and hoses checked for wear, cracking or breakage. If you have the knowledge then you can check most of these yourself but it’s always better to have your mechanic have a good look. 

Battery: It’s always a good idea to check your car’s battery. How old is it? Have you ever had to have a boost? Have the battery, terminals and cables checked, just in case. As a back-up make sure you are carrying booster cables. Better safe than sorry!

Brakes: If you hear any grinding noises or feel unusual vibrations when you apply the brakes, or if the vehicle pulls to one side, take the vehicle in for a comprehensive checkup. It would be a good idea just to have your brakes looked at to be sure they won't need replacing 1,000 miles into your trip.

Cooling system: Long driving and hot summer days and put a lot of stress on your engine’s cooling system. The fluid may need to be topped up or your system may need to be flushed.  A breakdown of your cooling system can quickly to the side of the road with nothing to do but wait. Always check this before you leave and take a mix of coolant with you, just in case.

Air-conditioning: Make sure your car's heating and A/C is working properly, including the fans and all the vents.

No matter how thorough you are with your preparations unexpected problems can still arise. Always ensure you have an emergency kit on hand, a cell phone, tire jack and spare tire in good condition and membership in an Emergency Assistance group would really help with you enjoy your trip.

Any preventative maintenance you do on your vehicle will save you time and money, not only on your road trip but upon your return too!

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