Summer is here, school is almost out and family vacations are approaching. For parents taking a more scenic route towards their vacation destination, we recommend planning a car maintenance check-up before you start packing suitcases. When road-tripping with children in the car, a problem with your ride is the last thing you want to deal with. We connected with national automotive expert and Cars.com spokesperson, Barbara Terry, to share some of her expertise on getting your car ready for a long, stress-free drive.
Barbara recommends that every family prepare themselves in three ways: understand how to maintain your car, prepare an emergency kit and be ready to locate the best service centers in case of an unexpected breakdown on your trip.
Maintaining is Key:
- Check Your Oil: You should change your oil approximately every 3,000 miles. The intervals vary by manufacturer, but it’s good to check the oil before taking off for your big trip.
- Transmission Fluid: To check your transmission fluid, pull out the transmission’s dipstick, wipe it off, stick it back in and pull it back out to receive the reading. An easy check for a smooth ride.
- Tire Pressure: Make sure to check all four tires and the air pressure and condition of your spare tire too. When you examine your tires, check for places or spots that look worn down. If you see any issues, look into getting your tires replaced and have the front end aligned. Correct tire tread and pressure is crucial for driving in rain, snow or rocky pavement.
- Belts and Hoses: Look for cracks in the belts. Also look for “soft” places and bulges in the hoses. If belts or hoses look suspect, change them. It’s much easier to change them at the time and place of your choice rather than having to change one alongside a desolate road in the middle of the night.
Pack an Emergency Road-Trip Kit:
- Gallon of water for a potential radiator issue or for being parched while stuck in hot weather.
- A flashlight with extra batteries.
- Road maps to guide you even if you have a GPS, because they don’t show every road.
- Box of Band-Aids, gauze and aspirin.
- Having non-perishable food is a good idea as well: protein bars, breakfast bars, dried fruit, trail mix, etc.
- Safety road flares are important so you can signal other drivers in case of a breakdown.
- You’ll always need jumper cables or a jump box, road trip or not, for a dead or weak battery.
- Lastly, customize your kit with items that will suit you and the needs of your family members – if you have kids, you may want to have extra games, DVD’s and toys.
Barbara also recommends downloading the Cars.com app in your smartphone for their “Service & Repair” feature in case you need to find service centers in an unknown area. This tool helps car owners understand how much to pay for repairs in any geographic area with its innovative price estimator, which is designed to help explain what other people are paying for the same service, including the breakdown between the cost of parts and labor. Consumers can locate service centers in their area and read reviews written by other consumers to help them make the right decision. This is the perfect tool to use when you are unfamiliar with the area.