Summer is here! School is out, the sun is shining, and out-of-town destinations call out for people to visit them. As a result, many people will decide to go on a road trip for vacation. If you have chosen to go on a summer road adventure to beat the heat, enjoy the heat, or frantically escape a rabid pack of wild dogs, there are some things you (or your local, friendly Chad Miller Auto Care) should do to prepare for the trip.
I’ve always found that acronyms help me remember things, so I’ve created one for the things you should check at least a week before hitting the road—”Very Bad Boys Break Things”:
It is essential to check your vehicle’s fluid levels and make sure they’re all within the proper specifications, which can usually be found in the owner’s manual.
|Fluid||Color||What happens if you don’t maintain it|
|Engine oil||Black or brown||
|Coolant||Purple, pink, yellow, blue, or green||
|Transmission fluid||Red or green||
|Brake fluid||Clear or light yellow||
|Power steering fluid||Red||
|Windshield washer fluid||Blue or orange||
With all of these, if the fluid is dark, dirty, and/or gritty, it is time to change it.
One of the most common things that strands people on the side of the road is a dead battery. It is a good idea to check your battery before going on a road trip. The cables should be tight and snug around the terminals. Also, check the wires to see if the rubber coating is cracked or missing in places. The battery terminals should be clean—no corrosion, dirt, confetti, cotton candy, etc.
Your local, friendly Chad Miller Auto Care can test the voltage of the battery for you, but in case you are more of a hands-on kind of person, here’s how to do it yourself (I got this info from Geeks of Cars):
If it’s taking longer for your car to stop, your brakes are squeaking, or your vehicle is pulling to one side when you brake, you need to get your brakes checked before a road trip. It may be solved with a fluid check, but it could also be an issue with the rotors, pads, drums, cylinder, etc. You certainly don’t want to be in a position where you either cannot brake at all, or you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Just remember: Before a trip you takes, have someone check the brakes.
Regarding belts and hoses, Vincent Ciulla says this on Liveabout.com:
“Check all the drive belts and hoses for any signs of wear and deterioration. Belts that are frayed, glazed, cracked, cut or have chunks missing should be replaced immediately. With the engine off and cold, look at each hose and see if there are leaks, bulges, cracks, or swelling. If they look good, give them a squeeze test. Good hoses are firm but flexible. Any hoses that feel spongy, soft, or brittle should be replaced.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
If your feet are worn out, uneven, slippery, or have holes in them, you’re not going to walk very far before you have to stop. Tires are the feet of a vehicle. Before you start traveling, check your vehicle’s feet to see if they have any uneven wear. Check the tread to see if it is thick enough (thicker than the thickness of a penny should be ok). Check the air pressure using a pressure gauge, and compare it with the recommended air pressure in your owner’s manual or on the inside of your door where the VIN number is located. If the pressure is too low, add air, and then listen for leaks.
Fun trick: If you can’t see a hole, but you hear a leak, you can spray water or some other kind of liquid from a spray bottle onto your tire. If there’s a leak, you’ll be able to see it with the liquid.
On top of your vehicle preparation, you can also prepare your mind for a fun road trip with some of these boardless, pieceless road trip games.
The time has come for vacation planning. As long as you remember “Very Bad Boys Break Things” and check all the fundamental components of your vehicle before you hit the road, you should have a smooth ride to your destination. Whether or not you enjoy it is up to you.
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