Are you going to New York to visit family or taking the kids to visit the Keys? As the Griswalds in National Lampoon’s Vacation can attest, long car trips can strengthen a family but also have the possibility of putting some unusual strains on relationships. Don’t let car troubles complicate this experience. While not everything can be prevented, these following tips will help with the preventable and minimize the chances of any serious problems.

  1. Schedule a Tune up
    1. Bring your car into Elite and tell us your plan. The least you will need is an oil change. While getting any oil change we will perform a complimentary 30 point inspection which will encompass most of these other checks but it is good that you look at them too so you are confident in the dependability of your vehicle. Confidence in your vehicle is priceless, so don’t be shy, our mechanics want you to feel safe while you are on your trip so ask us if you have any questions at all.
  2. Check your tires
    1. Don’t plan a road trip if you have bald tires. The very least amount of tread your car should have is 3/32 of an inch. To check this insert a penny upside down, if all of Abe Lincoln’s hair is in the tread then you are good. If you can see the hair on the top of his head then you need new tires as soon as possible; and before any road trip! You not only risk a blowout but also the risk losing the ability to avoid an accident.
    2. Tire Pressure. Check your driver’s side doorjamb or your user’s manual to find out what your tires pressure should be. Good tire pressure improves gas mileage and handling.
  3. Check your fluids
    1. Make sure everything is topped off.
    2. Also, now is not the time to be experimenting with weird additives. It is tempting because of all the “end of the Earth is imminent if you don’t use this fuel additive!” warnings on the bottle; but if your car or truck was running fine before, don’t mess with it.
  4. Check your hoses and belts.
    1. Open up your hood and do a physical and visual inspection of your engine. Make sure your engine is not running and cooled off when you do this. It is important that you touch and squeeze hoses to make sure they are not dry rotted. Visually inspect your belts to make sure they are not frayed or excessively worn.
  5. Check your windshield, windshield wipers, and windshield washer fluid.
    1. You have to see danger to avoid it, so keep those windows clean!
    2. If you are going somewhere that is cold during the winter make sure you have the proper windshield washing fluid that won’t freeze.
    3. Wipers need to be serviceable. Look at the rubber of the wiper and make sure it is still attached to the wiper arm and not dry rotted, this includes your rear window wiper if you have one.
  6. Check your lights
    1. Having someone with you will help this to be done correctly. Have them watch the front and back while you use all your lights, including brake lights.
  7. Check your brakes
    1. In the days prior to your trip pay special attention to your car when you are stopping at stop lights. If you hear anything unusual or the brakes are not responding correctly, get it to a mechanic as soon as possible.
  8. Check your battery
    1. Old batteries fail, especially in harsh temperatures. Make sure the connectors are tight and free of any corrosion.
  9. Have a plan
    1. Plan for the worst but hope for the best!
    2. Know how long it will take to get to your destination and then plan driving blocks to get you there. Running your car at high speeds for long amounts of time will wear it out, and if you are the only driver, it can wear you out more.
    3. Know what you’re going to do if you run into an emergency. Know what is covered with your insurance or your roadside assistance company and how far and where they can tow you. And, if something serious breaks, know the amount of emergency funds you have to get you back on the road and how much you can spend putting your family up in a hotel.
    4. Plan for what you will do if you are in one of the few places on Earth that doesn’t have any cell phone coverage.
  10. Ensure you have roadside safety equipment.
    1. Make sure your jack and spare tire are present, serviceable, and filled with air.
    2. Some safety equipment that you will be thankful to have
      1. First Aid Kit
      2. Flashlight and extra batteries
      3. Basic tool kit: adjustable wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdrivers, duct tape, knife, and socket set
      4. Reflective vest
      5. Fire extinguisher
      6. Flares
      7. Jumper cables
      8. Fuel can
      9. Cell phone charger or extra charged battery
      10. Blanket
      11. Umbrella and/or rain gear
      12. Whistle
      13. Ice scraper and brush
      14. Air compressor and tire repair kit

      Road trips can be enjoyable and build a lifetime of great memories. We hope you enjoy your adventure and we’re glad you have chosen Elite to help you prepare for this trip.