Is Your Car Roadtrip Ready?

You've plotted the route and packed the snacks, but is your car ready for a roadtrip? Here's handy checklist, just in case!

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Is Your Car Roadtrip Ready?

When it comes to “getting away from it all,” many travelers are skipping the pricey trips abroad and opting to enjoy the many amazing, closer-to-home sights from the comfort of their own vehicles.

If you’re planning a getaway, remember that roadtrips can be tough on cars, and few things turn a vacation into a nightmare quicker than breaking down in the middle of nowhere. So, before you load the car and take off, make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition.

A pre-trip inspection as part of an overall maintenance program can give you peace of mind and help prevent costly repairs.

Inspect and repair, if needed, the following:

  • Radiator and cooling system, including water pump, fan and thermostat
  • Brakes, brake pads and brake linings
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts and hoses
  • Engine oil and oil filter
  • Wiper blades and washer fluid
  • Tire pressure and overall tire condition (including the spare)
  • Most importantly, don’t leave on a long trip with your car’s “Check Engine” light on.
  • The Check Engine light appears when your vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) computer detects a problem. The Check Engine light is designed to limit air pollution, as well as alert drivers to a condition that can waste fuel, shorten engine life and result in potentially expensive repairs.

If the light does come on, a quick check of your vehicle’s service manual can often identify the problem and a course of action.

Those who take their car to a mechanic often find that technicians use a diagnostic tool to scan their vehicle and access trouble codes at a cost of $55 to $100.

A new automotive tool, with a website, lets consumers run their own diagnosis, enabling them to verify the mechanic’s assessment.

Called CarMD, the tool provides a basic overview of probable problems with the car’s electronic and emissions-related systems. It incorporates the same basic technology as tools used by mechanics, but is said to cost less and can be operated by anyone. A green light indicates that all systems are “go,” a yellow light signals a possible problem and a red light means there is a current problem and service is required.

For more in-depth information, simply plug the tool into your personal computer and turn it on. It will connect to the company’s Web site and provide a comprehensive report on your vehicle’s health, including possible problems, estimated fixes, and repair costs.