Q: What should I do to make sure my car is ready for a summer road trip?
A: Start by checking the vehicle’s owner’s manual to verify that you have been following the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. Usually, these recommendations cover such items as oil changes, air filter replacements, fluid changes, transmission service and brake system checks. Note that requirements for your vehicle may vary from this list.
For high-mileage vehicles, additional services may be required, such as spark plug replacements and timing belt service. Under most circumstances, if you have followed the manufacturer’s service schedule, you should be able to drive with confidence on a summer vacation.
If your planned travels will take you past a manufacturer’s recommended service procedure, you should have that work performed before you leave. For example, if you are planning a 2,000-mile trip and are just 1,000 miles away from needing a brake fluid change, have that completed before you leave.
In addition, it is a good idea to have a professional technician examine your car before you start your trip. Have this person look under the hood for any potential problems
As part of the vehicle check, the technician should use a lift to examine the exhaust, fuel and brake lines, suspension, tires and brakes to ensure that they are in good shape. Tires, including the spare, should show even wear, have no cuts or bulges in either the tread or sidewalls, be properly inflated, and have at least 4/32 of an inch for tread depth. To help the technician, report any recent problems, such as hard starting or poor fuel economy. And if the “check engine” light is on, address this issue before your departure.
Finally, an exterior safety review is in order. Walk around the car to make sure that all the lights, including the brake, license plate and side marker lights, are working properly. Also, ensure that the wipers are in good shape