Is your car road trip ready? Here are some common things to check to avoid getting stranded
TAMPA, Fla. — If you’re planning on taking your first major road trip since the coronavirus pandemic began, take some time to ensure your ride is up to par.
A year’s worth of pent-up demand is about to be unleashed as 34 million Americans plan on taking a road trip this Memorial Day weekend.
If you haven’t made a big trip in a while, it’s a wise idea to make sure your vehicle is safe and ready to travel.
“Some vehicles may have spent more time in the driveway than on the roadway after a year of disrupted schedules due to the pandemic,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA. “A pre-trip inspection will go a long way to ensure you don’t spend the holiday on the roadside.”
The top three reasons drivers call AAA is for flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts.
If your tires are neglected, you could find yourself in a multitude of situations ranging from a simple flat to a dangerous blowout on the highway.
“If people have not serviced their vehicle lately, chances are their tire pressure is low,” Jenkins said. “Low tire pressure is one of the lead contributors to tire blowouts. Consider checking the air in your tires the next time you fill up the gas tank.”
Motorists should check their tire pressure once a month and before taking a long trip. Also, inspect your tires to make sure they are free from cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges.
Looking at tire tread depth is also important. To check if your tires are at a safe level, insert a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington’s head, it is time for new tires.
Here’s some other things to look for before hitting the road this weekend:
- Listen to and feel the brakes. If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection. A service professional will check the brake system for fluid leaks, and the pads, rotors, shoes, and drums.
- Secure and test the battery. Make sure cable connections are clean and tight, and the hold-down hardware is secure. Have a service professional do a battery check to determine its remaining capacity. AAA members can request a free battery check.
- Top off engine oil and other fluids. Check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.
- Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner. Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with fluid formulated to remove insects and other debris, and test to make sure the nozzles spray adequately.
- Replenish emergency kit supplies. AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves, and shop rags or paper towels.
If you do find yourself on the side of the road or in need of a tow this weekend, AAA can help. Motorists can call or text “HELP” to 1-800-AAA-HELP or submit a request for service on the AAA mobile app.
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