The temperature needle is rising and you have another hour’s drive until you reach your destination.
One more hour? It doesn’t seem like you’ll make it. You might be spending the night in a motel while your car catches its breath in a mom-and-pop garage.
It happens to everyone at one time or another, but holiday/vacation trauma is less likely with a little planning.
Yes, indeed, according to auto experts, planning and preparation actually works. Who would have thought? Sarcasm aside, of course we know this, so why don’t many of us follow our gut instincts … or all that wholesome professional advice?
Take some time and invest in an inspection, especially if you have a long road trip planned … and before it’s too late.
Most car manufacturers recommend regular service according to what’s showing on the odometer, but we also have some tips that just aren’t in the manual. Yes, there’s a manual.
Boiling over and leaking
No matter how fresh, tasty and green engine coolant looks, it becomes very acidic over time. That stuff will eat your engine from the inside out.
So, it needs to be tested and changed if necessary. Then there are the hoses. Check them for leaks, cracks and swelling, which are all signs of fatigue.
Loading up the gear and piling a lot of people into a vehicle adds stress to all the systems, including the automatic transmission. An overheating transmission can cause engine coolant boilovers so have a shop check/change the transmission fluid.
Many car companies recommend an oil-and-filter change every three months or 5,000-10,000 kilometres, while some want you to do it less often than that even.
Consult your owners’ manual to find out regular maintenance-schedule specifics, and here’s why.
Worn-out oil actually works against your engine, acting as an abrasive instead of a lubricant, causing excessive wear and premature failure (usually on the open road a hundred miles from grandma’s house).
Perhaps no other part of your vehicle takes as much punishment as the brakes. Have a technician inspect the system for wear and proper operation. Since this should be regularly checked, your brakes are most likely already in near perfect condition (you do have them regularly inspected, right?).
Since your minivan/ maxitruck/Mini Cooper will most likely be packed to the gills with family members (who you presumably love) for a summer road trip, it’s no time to lose your brakes.
A lesson we’ve learned the hard way is never, ever scrimp on brake pads since there can be dramatic performance differences.
A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and poses a safety hazard. Like, you haven’t heard that a million times before. But just because you have new wiper blades doesn’t mean that you have clear vision.
On older vehicles that see a lot of highway miles, the windshield becomes sandblasted and pitted, creating a fuzzy, hazy view. The problem is amplified at dawn and dusk and when there’s glare off a wet road. If you can swing it — perhaps even your insurance policy covers it — get a fresh piece of glass installed.
They’re fickle creatures that quit at will without a care in the world about what you happen to be doing at the time. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment.