Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Road-Ready with These Maintenance Tips
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Each road trip provides an opportunity to embrace an unforgettable adventure with friends or family. It can remove you from your daily obligations, allow you to step out of your comfort zone, and help you refocus your life. And when you visit Yellowstone National Park, it will leave you with firsthand experience of breathtaking sights you may have only seen in pictures.
In order to have the best road trip possible, however, you need to make sure your vehicle is up for the trek. This article will provide some advice for preparing your car for the road so that you can safely enjoy your adventure out west.
Confirming Your Insurance
Before you start any maintenance to your vehicle, you want to revisit your auto insurance to make sure it’s covering your needs. Many plans change by the year, so it’s important to stay up to date and on the details of your policy and brush up on a little car insurance 101. Particularly if your plan auto-renews, you will need to review your policy to see exactly what is covered in the event of an accident. Learn as much as you can about your plan so that you can make any necessary changes and be best equipped for the road.
Once you’ve properly sorted out your insurance, it’s time to cover some of the maintenance basics to get your car ready for the road:
Tires. The proper air pressure in your tires can increase fuel efficiency, but more importantly, good tires will make your trip much safer. Examine each tire for wear. If the tread is low on the outside, look at the inside; if there is good tread on the inside of your tires, rotate them. If you see cracks, dry rot, or sidewall bubbles, get a new set of tires.
Brakes. The importance of brakes for a vehicle is obvious, and it’s usually not very expensive to get them checked by a mechanic. While you’re at it, have the entire brake system inspected (e.g., master cylinder, calipers, brake lines, etc.). Also, make sure your brake pads are in good condition, as they are responsible for causing the friction that stops and slows your car.
Oil. The make and year of your vehicle will typically determine how often you get your oil changed. Generally speaking, for cars 10 years or older, it’s best to change them every 3,000 miles or three months (whichever comes first). For newer cars, you can go anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 miles (or six months to a year). Consider how long it’s been since you changed your oil, as well as how many miles you will travel during your upcoming trip. If you have any doubts, go ahead and get an oil change before you head out.
Other fluids. Other fluids you may need to service include the coolant/antifreeze, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. You can usually see when to top off coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid by looking at their respective reservoirs. Keep in mind, however, that each fluid has its own lifespan, and this article provides more information on when you should replace them.
Battery. A bad battery can really put a downer on your trip out west. If your car battery is older than three years, have it inspected.
Also, get your battery inspected if you notice any of these signs:
- Your engine struggles to start.
- The battery fluid is low.
- The battery case is swollen.
- There is excessive corrosion around the battery.
A great road trip requires a reliable vehicle. After you revisit your insurance plan, make sure to have any necessary maintenance performed to get your car ready for travel. Then you and everyone with you will be able to enjoy your adventure with full confidence.
AUTHOR: Daniel Sherwin