Preparing your car for a road trip

Before you head out on a road trip, it’s important to prepare your car or you could quickly see the end of that vacation. A breakdown can cost a lot in repair bills, towing charges and possible additional lodging and expenses, messing up your plans and travel time.

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the road with some standard preventative maintenance to save trouble, frustration and money.

Fluids, belts and hoses: Check all fluid levels including engine oil, coolant, transmission, brake and power steering fluid, as well as windshield washer fluid. Make sure your car has an oil, lube and filter change done before you hit the road if it’s due and do a quick leak test in your driveway. Let your engine run for 15 minutes to reach full operating temperature and park it over a large piece of cardboard to see if any fluids drip from the vehicle. If there are any leaks, check the colour and let your mechanic know, if needed.

Have all drive belts and hoses checked for wear, cracking or breakage. You can either do this yourself, if you have the knowledge, or have your mechanic do it.

Battery: It’s a good idea to check your car’s battery. Think about how old it is, if you’ve ever had a boost, and have the battery, terminals and cables checked just in case. Always carry booster cables, just in case.

Brakes: If you hear grinding, feel vibrations or the vehicle pulls to one side when you apply the brakes, have them checked.

Cooling system: Long driving and hot weather put a lot of stress on your engine’s cooling system. The fluid may need to be topped up or the system might need to be flushed. Always carry a mix of coolant with you, just in case.

Air conditioning: Make sure your car’s heating and A/C is working properly, including all fans and vents.

No matter how thorough you are, unexpected problems can always arise. Ensure you have an emergency kit on hand, a cell phone, tire jack and spire time, as well as a membership to an emergency assistance group to be prepared should a break down occur.