Nothing goes with cars better than a road trip! When you become free from your daily schedules, and experience the open road - it's an awesome feeling! But there's nothing like having car problems to bring that great road trip fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. Let's look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip and what you might do to avoid them.
It all starts with a thorough trip inspection by your local TECHNET PROFESSIONAL AUTO SERVICE® center. Let's talk about some of the items on the trip inspection checklist.
Trip Inspection Checklist
- The most common vehicle component to failure is the tires. Of course, you can't always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.
A good tire inspection will start with looking over the condition of each tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.
Your brakes should also be inspected based on the manufacturer's recommendation or as necessary for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You'll also want to know if it's time to service your brake fluid. Over time water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.
- While looking under your car, your auto technician should also inspect your suspension system for worn or damaged parts. If you need new shocks or struts, you'll really notice the difference on your trip once you have them replaced.
- Now the second most common vehicle failure is the cooling system. It may be time for a coolant exchange or flush. These services remove old fluid that has become corrosive and replaces it with fresh, clean fluid that restores the effectiveness of your cooling system. The cooling system inspection will reveal leaks and weakened hoses. Replacing worn parts, like the radiator cap or water pump may be indicated. Even though cooling system failure is fairly common, it's easy and relatively inexpensive to prevent with proper maintenance.
- Another thing people often overlook is their transmission service. This is very important before a road trip because transmission problems tend to take some time and a lot of money to get fixed. Not the way you want to spend your vacation.
- Your technician should also inspect your belts to see if they should be replaced. A failed belt is at best an inconvenience.
- You also should give your exhaust system the once over to make sure there aren't any dangerous leaks that could harm you and your passengers.
- Of course, there are the usual things as well. An oil change, engine air filter, fuel system cleaning, and a routine tune up. If you need any of these things, get them done today - the improved fuel economy will be well appreciated on your road trip with less money spent on gas.
- If your heater or air conditioning isn't working as well as you'd like, let your service consultant know. They can easily check to make sure your heater and air conditioning systems are working properly.
- Some important items that are often overlooked are power steering service, differential service and timing belt replacement. If these things don't ring a bell, have your service consultant check to see if they're due and show you virtually what can happen when any of these services are not performed as recommended by the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedules.
- Now while you're out seeing the sights, you'll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren't working well. And don't forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don't even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for a trip or daily driving. They'll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your travels.