Like runners stretch, eat and hydrate before a marathon, so must your vehicle be prepared to last through a road trip. While it’s one thing to be stranded along the roadside in a familiar area, it’s another entirely to end up alone and without a working car in the middle of nowhere. So, before you load up on gas station cuisine and organize festive playlists, make sure your car receives its proper TLC.
People need water and blood to survive, and cars need fluid to stay cool and lubricated. Here are the six vital fluids you should have checked before a long drive:
- Oil – It keeps your engine happy by lubricating the many moving parts, so before you do anything else, make sure the oil is full and grime-free.
- Brake fluid – You need your car to stop when you tell it to, and when you push the brake, it’s fluid that forces brake pads to slow the car. Before a trip, have brake fluid topped off and flushed, if necessary.
- Radiator fluid – The radiator relies on moisture to stay cool. Radiator fluid (also known as coolant or antifreeze) keeps this component working properly, so make sure it’s at peak levels. An overheated engine can cause a lot of problems.
- Transmission fluid – Necessary for smoothly-shifting gears, transmission fluid is vital. Fortunately, it lasts longer than other fluids, but make sure to have it replaced every 60,000 – 100,000 miles.
- Power-steering fluid – This fluid helps you turn the car smoothly at all speeds, so it’s never a bad idea to have it checked.
- Windshield fluid – Bugs and dust can inhibit a driver’s clear line of sight, so keep things clean by ensuring windshield fluid stays at peak levels.
They key to comfort, safety and fuel economy is well-functioning tires. Have the air pressure checked and consider a tire rotation since weight balance and road conditions can cause them to wear out at different rates.
For peace of mind, it never hurts to have a few basic maintenance checks run, namely on light bulbs, air filters, brake pads, and belts/hoses. Making sure these features are clean and in peak condition will help you feel that much better about loading up and heading out.
Road trips can offer everything from excitement and adventure to solitude and relaxation. So before you prepare to drive off into the horizon, make sure your vehicle is as prepared as you are.