Get Your Car In Tip Top Shape
With Labor Day just around the corner, families will be taking off for a long weekend to mark the end of summer. The hot weather is calling you toward the water and the mountains for a great escape, but is your car up to the task?
Before you hit the highway, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape.
“People just hop in the car and take off,” said Frank Norton, owner of Mr. Transmission/Milex in Charlotte. “It’s easier to check (your car) now than to get 2,000 or 3,000 miles down the road and see that this is wrong. Don’t put it off.”
If you do a few simple inspections on your own or through a full-service car care center, you’ll be able to reach your destination quickly and without surprises.
6 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GO
1. Fluids: Check all your fluids — including transmission, brake, power steering and washer fluid — and replace as needed. Cold weather may have caused them to become thick and water to be introduced into the system. If you’ll be due for an oil change during your vacation, go ahead and get it done before you leave, Norton said.
2. Lights: Make sure brake lights, turn signals, high/low beams and emergency flashers are all working properly.
3. Systems: Check your suspension and steering systems, battery and brakes.
4. Tires: Rotate your tires, test the pressure of the main four and the spare, make sure there’s plenty of tread, and look for signs of uneven wear and wheel alignment issues. Replace or repair tires if necessary.
5. Wipers: Install new wiper blades if yours aren’t keeping your windshield clear anymore. Some warning signs are if they’re torn, ripped, hard, or squeak a lot during heavy rain.
6. Belts and hoses: Inspect drive belts for cracks and fraying, and cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps, said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas public relations manager. The hoses should not feel brittle or excessively spongy when you squeeze them.
5 SAFE CAR TRAVEL TIPS
1. “Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic,” Wright said.
2. Norton recommended having a safety kit with a flash light and water, which can be used for the vehicle or riders. Roadside assistance contact information, a cell phone and charger should also be kept in the car in case there’s an accident or emergency, Wright said.
3. It’s critical that items being hauled on top of the vehicle are secured properly, Norton said.
4. Norton said drivers should be aware of their instrument panel and what the different icons mean, and keep an eye on it as they’re driving.
5. It’s also a good idea to peek under the car’s hood and check tire pressure and basic fluids before starting your drive back home, he said.