There is a certain feeling of freedom I get from being behind the wheel of a car and driving down the open road. Along with that freedom lies a certain responsibility, and for me that means making sure my family is safe.
We live in a pretty harsh climate in Arizona and when we travel to California to see family for the holidays or take weekend road trips we travel through some pretty desolate areas, especially in the summer.
Coming up with a plan to make sure you and your vehicle are prepared is essential so I would like to share a few things I do before taking a trip. I am by no means a mechanic but here are a few very simple checks you can do before loading up the car and hitting the road.
1. Check the tires. Make sure they look to be wearing evenly. Also check the air pressure. Most tires will have a recommended air pressure on the side. I use an inexpensive air pressure I gauge I purchased at my local auto parts store for about a dollar.
2. Check your oil. It’s best to do this on a level surface and when the engine is cool, you don’t want to accidentally burn yourself. Your car’s dipstick will have lines or dots that indicate low and full oil levels. Be mindful of your oil level, you never want to let your car run low. Add oil if needed. Check your owner’s manual for oil type and filling instructions.
3. Make sure the air filter is clean and isn’t black from sucking in too much dust. A little is ok but the dirtier it is the lower your gas mileage gets and the harder it is for your car to breathe. Most modern cars are set up the same way and house the air filter in a black box secured with three or four metal clips. It easily pops right off and you can pull the air filter out. Now that you know how to check your air filter you can save money by buying and replacing it yourself.
4. Now that you have your hood up, why not take a look around? Are there any damp areas or loose wires? Check the other reservoirs and make sure they are full. For example the windshield wiper fluid always seems to be low in our car. If you see anything questionable it might be a good idea to take it to your mechanic before going on any long trips.
5. Tool kits are always great to have in an emergency. I keep a simple kit in the car with a few extras. A pocket knife, zip ties and a flashlight are essentials in my book. Kinda seems like a MacGyver setup but a lot can be done with these things in an emergency.
Along with snacks food and plenty of water those are the basic steps I take to get ready for a road trip.
**A few things to remember. Be sure to turn your engine off and let it cool before performing any maintenance Always park on a level surface and make sure the vehicle is in park with the emergency brake