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Winter Car Care Tips

  The weather is starting to feel like winter so I wanted to share these quick tips from  Car Care Council so you can get your vehicle s...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Road Trip Checklist

The most critical areas to check before going on a driving trip are engine fluids, radiator hoses, belts, tires and brakes. Appropriately preparing these key areas of the automobile before you leave for your trip will not only keep you safe while driving, it’ll also help prevent costly repairs.

1. Engine Oil
Check your oil levels and the date you’re due for an oil change. If you’re close to the manufacturer-recommended oil-change then go ahead and change it. 

2. Transmission and Differential Fluids
Did you forget about the other fluid reservoirs in your car? Both your transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant supply. Check your owner’s manual for their change intervals. They are usually quite a bit longer than those for engine oil, but if your car has over 75,000 miles and you’ve never checked or changed these other lubricants, it’s time to get busy. 

3. Hoses
Look for bulges or blisters in hoses, which indicate a weakness in the wall. If your hoses have cracks or blisters, replace them. As a precaution, buy a hose-patch kit at the local auto parts store to keep in the glove compartment.  

4. Belts
Check belts by turning them sideways with your hand so you can see the friction surface. If they’re even the slightest bit ragged, torn, cracked or showing the fiber cords, it’s time for fresh ones. Consult your service manual for instructions

5. Engine Coolant
New vehicles come equipped with engine coolant designed to go 100,000 to 150,000 miles. If your car is less than four years old, just check that the under-hood coolant reservoir—usually a clear plastic bottle that says “engine coolant” on the cap—is topped off. Not all coolants are the same and it’s not a good idea to mix them, so be sure to use the same coolant type that is already in the engine. Consult your owner’s manual for the correct type.  

6. Tire Pressure and Tread
Low tire pressure can decrease fuel economy, but more important, may cause the tire to run hotter from the extra friction, leading to a blowout. Before you hit the road, be sure to check the pressure in all four tires using a good gauge (available from your auto parts store). If it is too low, an air hose is usually available at most gas stations. It’s also important to look at the tread on all four tires to make sure they’re not too worn or unevenly worn. If your tires are questionable in terms of wear, or have a bubble in the sidewall from a recent bounce against a curb, it’s best to install new tires now rather than take a chance on them wearing out while you’re on the road. 

7. Brake System  
Rusted brakes are bad. Check your brake reservoir for the color of the fluid and make sure that it is topped off up to the full mark. If you haven’t had a flush in the last two or three years, get one before you leave. While you’re at it, go ahead and have your brake pads and rotors checked, replacing them if they’re worn so you can stop on a dime in an emergency situation.
8. Battery
Have your electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your battery is more than four years old, it might be a good idea to replace it before your trip. Check the battery condition visually. If you see any leaks, cracks or any other damage, do replace the battery. Make sure the battery terminals are tight and not corroded. 

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