Preparing for a Road Trip

Preparing to hit the open road for vacation is as hectic as it is exciting. A great deal of packing, planning and organizing goes into ensuring that you have everything you need and want for the duration of your excursion. Despite your anticipation, do not neglect placing just as much importance on making sure your vehicle is in top shape and prepared for the trip. It is impossible to predict everything that can possibly go wrong with a vehicle, but you can certainly increase the likelihood of an incident free road trip by taking a few preventative steps to ensure your vehicle's readiness.

If you haven't already, make sure that your car is up to date for all of its manufacturer scheduled maintenance. The vehicle owner's manual will outline each service that should be performed for your particular vehicle model at different mileage stages. Also, have any irregular noises or shakes examined by a certified mechanic before you hit the highway.

You and your vehicle rely heavily on tires not only to take you from point A to B, but to contribute to your safety en route. Under or over inflated tires can hurt your gas mileage and are more prone to blowouts that can leave you stranded. Ensure that the air pressure in each tire meets the exact recommended inflation level, and inspect the tread for wear. Any unevenness or baldness is cause for concern, and should be inspected by a tire specialist. If your trip involves snowy, mountainous terrain, have snow tires or chains ready in advance and know the procedure for utilizing them.

Next, inspect under the hood for battery condition and proper fluid levels. Add or change oil as needed, and check for acceptable levels of coolant, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid if you have it. Inspect the terminals connected to the vehicle's battery, and ensure that they are free of corrosion. If you do not know the age or condition of your battery, it is a good idea to have it tested at an auto repair establishment and replace it if needed.

Waiting until the last minute to make sure that your vehicle is in traveling condition can delay or ruin your planned trip. Check your vehicle's maintenance schedule, tires, and under the hood days before your departure to prevent any setbacks in the event that maintenance is necessary. Finally, unwind and rest assured that you have properly prepared to enjoy a safe, trouble free vacation.

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