Road trips are more fun when the car doesn't break down. This quick maintenance checklist will alert you to potential problems before they turn into expensive tows.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:June 2007
Broken belts are one of the
most common reasons for roadside assistance
calls. Replacement belts are easy to
locate and replace near your home. But
the belt for your car may be tough to find
in rural areas. Twist the belt slightly to
expose cracks or glazing. Replace any belt
that is cracked, worn or delaminating.
leaks often turn into gushers once you leave
town, and that can be costly. The most
common sources: the radiator, engine oil
pan, transmission oil pan and hoses, power
steering hoses, steering rack, and heater and
radiator hoses. Use a flashlight to check for
leaks. Note the color of the fluid and trace
the fluid trails back to their source.
With the engine off, check
power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant,
windshield washer and engine oil. Most
automatic transmissions must be checked
with the engine hot and running and the
gearshift in “park.” Check your owner's
manual to confirm. Look for the power
steering fluid level to reach the COLD
mark on the dipstick. If it's low, check
your owner's manual and buy the right
fluid for your vehicle.
They're easy to check, and inexpensive to
replace. Bulb numbers and replacement
procedures are listed in your owner's
manual. Turn the key to the “accessories”
position (there's no need to start the
engine). Operate the turn signals, brake
lights and backup lights, and check for
reflections in your rearview mirror.
Perform the same checks on the front
turn signal lights, headlights, high beams
and running lights.
Low air pressure causes tires to use more
gas, wear faster and run hotter. Hot tires
are more prone to blowout during
extended highway drives. Check them all
(including the spare) before you leave
town. Look for the correct air pressure on
the decal located on either the driver's
door or the door pillar. If the decal is
missing, check your owner's manual.
Always make sure the tires are cold when
you check tire pressure.
It's time for the beloved family road trip
and everybody's itching to get going.
Better do a quick check of your car's
health first. Some discoveries can prevent
“towable” experiences; others are safety
issues. It would be best to run through
this five-minute checklist a week ahead of
departure so you'll have time to get the car
repaired if a mechanic is needed.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
You'll also need a trouble light, tire gauge and disposable rubber gloves.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
Copyright © 2013 The Family Handyman. All Rights Reserved.