This year, AAA predicts nearly 49 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving, with 89% of those planning to drive. Before you head out, here’s a quick road-trip checklist. Bring your vehicle to the shop, to ensure it’s up to the task of enduring stop-and-go traffic, which is probably about as taxing to your car as it is to your car’s passengers!
Quick Road-Trip Checklist
Battery: Measure Its Strength
Car batteries draw more energy while operating in the winter months. As temperatures dip, your vehicle is more susceptible to dying. Head off a dead battery with a check (often a free service), so you have a sense of how much more life is left in your battery.
If this advice has gotten to you too late, here’s how to jump your battery.
Tires: Do a Visual Test, Penny Test + Pressure Gauge
Tires are among the most important safety items on your vehicle. They’re also among the most expensive parts, but they’re worth it. Tires ensure your vehicle is glued to the road, and less likely to lose control over wet leaves, rain and snow. Also, properly inflated tires will save your precious gas mileage.
– Give your tires a once-over.
Be sure you don’t see any cracks or bubbles!
– Do the penny test.
Hold a penny against your tire, with Abe Lincoln’s head facing down. If your tire obscures some of his head, your treads are good to go. If you can see his entire head, bring your vehicle in to see if a professional tech advises you get new tires, or have a few miles left in them.
– Measure your tires’ air pressure.
Ensure it follows your car manufacturer’s guidelines. Bring your car to a gas station and enjoy the (sometimes free) air. That’ll keep your tires from uneven wear, increase your gas mileage, and save you from fellow do-gooder drivers pointing out that you have a low tire!
Oil: Check or Change It
The importance of regular oil changes can’t be underestimated. The more you drive, the more oil you’re using. Oil lubricates your engine, ensuring it runs smoothly — the last thing you want is to create undue wear on your engine, which would lead to a very pricey repair.
Coolant: Check It
No matter the time of year, your vehicle needs coolant in order to properly cool itself down. If your vehicle runs out of coolant, it could overheat, damaging or killing your radiator or engine. Topping it up yourself? Be 100% sure that you’re using the proper coolant for your vehicle, to ensure it doesn’t gum up, doing more damage than good.
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