This is the first in a two part series on summer road trips. This article is going to deal with a road trip checklist for getting your car in mechanical shape to handle a long journey, so these will (for the most part) require a mechanic. The second part in the series includes things you can easily do yourself before you hit the open road, no appointments necessary. Read part 2 here.

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Summer is here, and if you’re anything like us, that means one thing- ROAD TRIP!  The question is, are you prepared? Even for the most conscientious car owner, do yourself an your road trip companions a favour and check these few items before you hit the open road.

TIRES

Are your winter tires still on? Believe it or not, for many people they don’t think of this until the warm weather hits. To get your summer rubber on give us a call, you do not want to travel great distances on tires made for the opposite season. Trust us.

It takes five minutes to check for visible signs of wear and tear, embedded objects, uneven wear, and cracks in your tires. Peek at the date when your tires were manufactured. If they happen to be more than six years old, you might want to seriously consider replacing them. We can give you advice on that when you are in the shop and help you source new ones as well.

From there we will check tire air pressure, because low pressure impacts fuel economy and performance. We follow the tire manufacturer’s recommended air capacity and if you suspect a slow leak, check again for an embedded object like a nail. This is a perfect time to check tire #5 – the spare. You must have a properly inflated spare tire, the right tools to change a tire, and the ability to access the spare from underneath your vehicle or from the trunk. Getting a flat is bad- not being prepared enough to change it is even worse.

COOLING SYSTEM

On a cold engine, make sure the radiator fluid level and the reserve tank are topped up with the recommended mix of antifreeze and water. While you’re under the hood, do a visual inspection of the radiator hoses. Look for cracks and loose connections. If you think you need some maintenance, give us a call, as we check the condition of all belts and hoses as well as a hundred other things while we are under the hood.

OIL CHANGE

If your last oil change was within 1,000 km, you’re probably good to go. Double check the level and top off if necessary- especially important if you’re planning a cross-continent trip of thousands of KMs. We are happy to perform an oil change as part of your regular maintenance, so check the sticker on your windshield to see if you are due or not. Always keep an eye on the oil gauge throughout your trip, just in case.

TRANSMISSION

Even if your automatic transmission hasn’t given you any problems, check the fluid levels especially if you already have high kilometres. Unsure if your transmission fluid has ever been changed? Best to consult a pro to flush and replace really old fluid even though the process is more involved than an oil change.

AIR FILTER

When you are in for an oil change we will check and replace your air filter as needed, to ensure your air intake area is free from any debris that may have accumulated over the winter.

BRAKES

You’re not the only one with a summer “road trip” idea, and the increased volume of traffic on the highways means increased risk of accidents. Make sure your brakes are reliable before you hit the roads. If they need replacement or repair, best to delay your trip or take a different vehicle.

WIPER FLUID

Yup, you can probably do this one, but if you are in for a shop visit anyway, topping off the wiper fluid is hands down, the simplest thing you can do to have a pleasant and safe road trip. Nobody wants to have to pull over and wipe the accumulated layer of bugs and grime off the windshield with the sleeve of their shirt, all because nobody checked the wiper fluid.

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