Deep down, you know your car should be checked out before hitting the road for spring travel, but with so many other things left to do, some of us put it off. Bad idea, especially when you realize that in as little as 10 minutes, you can determine if your car is ready for long-distance driving.

The recommended 10-minute pre-trip checkup includes the following:

• Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and radiator coolant.

• Check all hoses and belts. They can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

• Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread condition. Uneven tread wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for sidewall bulges and bald spots.

In a very short amount of time, you can identify how road-ready your vehicle is and then take steps to have the problems fixed before heading off on your trip.

It’s a small sacrifice compared to the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home. Plus, if repairs or maintenance are needed, they can be done by a repair shop where you and your vehicle are known.

The windshield wipers plus interior and exterior lighting also should be checked prior to a road trip. It’s a good idea, too, to restock your emergency kit. As a rule of thumb, wipers should be replaced every six months and lighting should be checked monthly.

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