Spring is right around the corner and along with the warmer weather comes travel and road trips. Experiencing a breakdown can ruin your travel plans and cost you hundreds of dollars in towing fees and repairs by having some random mechanic shop patch the issue to get you on your way. Here are a few things to check on your foreign or domestic automobile before going on a long road trip.
Check Your Fluids
There are multiple fluids that are essential to your car running properly. They lubricate, clean, and cool the components throughout your automobile. They are all important, except for windshield washer fluid, maybe? Check all your fluids and make sure they are full and at proper level. If a fluid is slightly low, then top it off. If any fluid is particularly low then have your car checked out by your trusted mechanic shop as that could indicate a leak.
How to check the oil level
With the engine off, locate your oil dip stick. Pull the dip stick out and you’ll see marks indicating how much oil is in your engine’s crank case. If your car doesn’t have an oil dip stick like many late model BMW, then you can check your oil level via the infotainment menus. If you are a little low on oil then top it off until the dipstick reads full with the engine off. If the oil level is really low then you might have a serious oil leak in which case have your car looked at by a mechanic shop. If you run too low on oil you risk serious engine damage which will lead to very expensive to repairs.
How to check your coolant level
The cooling system on modern cars is complex and have many components which can start leaking. Make sure to check your coolant level when your engine is cold. As many luxury and European car brands use expansion tanks which are under pressure and can burn you when you the engine is warm. Locate the coolant tank and check the indicator to see if your coolant level is at the full mark. If it is a little low then make sure to top it off with the correct coolant as using the wrong coolant can cause the radiator, thermostat, or water pump to fail.
Check your tires
As you plan to drive a long distance you will want to avoid getting stuck in the middle of nowhere due to a flat tire. First you’ll want to get a cheap tire pressure gauge. They can be found in any auto part store for under $5. You will want to use it to make sure your tires are at the recommended air pressure. That number can be found on your driver’s side door jamb on a sticker along with other vehicle information.
If your tire pressures are close to specification, then top them off. But if one tire is significantly lower than the others, then you have an air leak and you will want to have that tire and rim inspected. Finally you will want to inspect your tires for tread depth in case you experience rain. So you don’t hydroplane and lose control of your car when you drive over puddles on the highway.
Take your car on a shake down cruise
Take your car out on a quick highway jaunt. Make sure to turn off the radio and avoid other distractions. Listen for strange noises that might be coming from the suspension, tires, or brakes. Pay attention to how your brakes feel. Does the brake pedal feel spongy or solid? Does it feel gritty as you gradually apply brake pressure to the pedal? Any strange smells coming from the vents in your car like you might be burning oil or something else? Anything that doesn’t seem right is reason to get your car checked out by your trusted mechanic. Any repair you might have get done now before your road trip will be exponentially cheaper than breaking down on the way to your destination. And if you are looking for a reputable and highly regarded mechanic shop, we invite to come on down to Tolima’s Auto Center.