Christie's Car Keys

 

Summer is the time when many of us look forward to much-needed vacations. And the last thing we want is to inadvertently end up in our own scene from "National Lampoon's Vacation" because of car trouble. So if you will be traveling to your favorite destination by automobile, now is the perfect time for a refresher about how to ensure your vehicle is travel-ready. A little time up front could save a lot of frustration later.

  • Tires - ensure tires have good tread and proper inflation. You can check tire pressure and get air at most any gas station. What's the correct tire pressure? Check inside the driver's door where that information is usually located.
  • Brakes - if you have not done this recently, have brake pads, liners and rotors checked. Since this requires removal of the tires to get access to the brakes, you will probably want to have this done at a service facility.
  • Fluid levels - check all fluid levels including transmission, brake, power steering (some vehicles do not have this) and washer fluids, also oil and coolants, and top off as needed. Also inspect for leaks. If you've noticed an unidentified puddle under your vehicle lately, you need to find the source and have it repaired.
  • Battery - look for corrosion and confirm that bolts are secure. And since you don't want to find yourself with a dead battery, have the battery charge checked so you can replace it if needed. This can be done at a dealership, or some auto supply stores offer that service.
  • Belts and hoses - look for leaks or signs of deterioration such as cracking or fraying which indicate they should be replaced.
  • Wiper blades - replace as needed.
  • Lights - run a test of headlights, taillights, brake lights, running or side marker lights to confirm that all are working properly. And this is a good thing to do periodically anyway as it can help prevent a traffic ticket!

Some of us are not familiar with where things are, or even what is located under the hood of our cars. And others may not have the time or desire to climb around their vehicle to check everything. So don't hesitate to get assistance. For example, some dealerships offer a multi-point inspection, at no charge, that includes all these items and more. Their technicians will do all the work for you, plus you can schedule an appointment to make the process even more convenient.
Then you can rest assured you're leaving the bad vacations to the Griswolds.

Christie Walin is Director of Marketing for Modern Automotive. You can reach her with questions or comments at askchristie@modernauto.com.

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