This time next week will be Thanksgiving and along with preparing the traditional Thanksgiving dinner you should also give some thought to preparing your vehicle for the inevitable driving most of us do over the holiday. Last year AAA projected that approximately 43.6 million travelers would take a trip at least 50 miles away from home, the vast majority of which would travel by car. So it makes sense to ensure that you or your mechanic has given your vehicle a quick maintenance and safety check prior to setting off for Thanksgiving dinner.
Here is a quick guide of what you should check:
- Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
- Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, and loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
- Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. You can find the optimum pressure for your vehicle on the sticker on the inside jam of the driver’s door.
- Check lighting to identify any problems with exterior and interior lighting as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen. Clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
- Check wipers. Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace them if they leave streaks or miss spots. Also, make sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled with a cleaning solution that will not freeze in cold weather·
- Battery – Ensure the battery cable connections are tight, and the terminals are free from corrosion. If the battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested to determine how much life it has left.
If your vehicle is almost due for any normally scheduled maintenance it would be a good idea to have it done prior to any long trip. Also if you have noticed any issues such as pulling, shuddering or any noises when you press the brake pedal it would probably be a good idea to have your brakes and/or alignment checked before you leave to visit family and friends.
Also it is a good time to check that your emergency kit has everything that you need – just in case. AAA recommends carrying gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, jumper cables, first aid kit, a flashlight, cell phone, bottled water and a few “high-energy snacks” in your glove box.
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