It’s Christmas Vacation Time!
Christmas is coming up. With the university getting out, people are going to want to be going home to visit family members. For residents here in Cache Valley, maybe you want to go on a Christmas vacation, visiting family members who live outside the valley. For whatever reason, you might just be planning a big trip. Before you go, you should get a quick inspection to make sure your car is safe to make the trip.
The Pre-Trip Safety Inspection
Before you go on any long drive, these are the things you should check up on to make sure you’re safe on the road.
There are number of elements of the tires you should inspect. First of all, you need good tire pressure to make sure your car can handle itself on the road. Low pressure will severely reduce your car’s ability to turn accurately, not to mention cause damage to other components of the tire. In winter, tire pressure has a tendency to fall because of the cold weather. Check your manual to find out what your tire’s pressure should be and make sure you’re at it.
Next, check the tire’s tread depth. The best way to do this is to use a quarter. Place it upside-down in a groove of your tire. If it hasn’t worn down too much, the tread should reach just as far as Washington’s hairline. Check the tire all over to make sure the tread is even. Uneven tread is more likely to get a puncture than even tread.
After this, check the sidewalls of the tire. Look for cuts, cracks, or bulges in the tire that can result from running over potholes, curbs, or objects. If you find any abnormalities, replace the tire before you set out.
The final inspection is to check the tire’s age. On every tire, there should be a date stamp. Look for the DOT stamped on the lower sidewall. The last two digits should indicate the year the tire was made. Tires should be replaced every ten years, though some manufacturers say that it should be every six, regardless of how worn they look. If your tire is too old replace it.
As a last note, make sure you don’t buy used tires. That’s just asking for trouble. You can’t guarantee their quality since you don’t know how poorly the previous owner treated them. They might look fine, but there could be problems you wouldn’t immediately notice just from looking. Best to buy new tires and be absolutely sure.
2. Check the Wheel Alignment
While you’re inspecting the tires, don’t forget to check the alignment. If the car’s wheels are misaligned, it can create steering problems, or make your tires more prone to blow-outs, or just generally shorten the tire’s lifespan. The biggest sign that your tires might be misaligned is uneven tread. Uneven tread means that your car’s wheels touching the road in one place more than another when you drive, which probably means the wheels aren’t aligned properly.
Even tread doesn’t mean your alignment is automatically good, though. To be sure, measure the distance between the tires in both the front and back. The measurement should be the same both times. If one measurement is noticeably shorter than the other, your tires are out of alignment. In that case, you’ll need to have it realigned before your trip.
3. Check the Fluids
Your car has a variety of fluids that all have their own uses. Before you go on a long trip, you should check each of the following to be sure that your levels are topped off.
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
- Windshield Washer Fluid
If any of these fluids are low, refill them before you go out.
4. Check the Battery Cables, Clamps, and Terminals
All of these elements together are responsible for ensuring that your car has power to run. You want to make sure that all fo the clamps, terminals and cables are properly attached so you don’t suddenly lose power. Before you do anything with the electrical systems, however, you should make sure that your car is turned off and the battery is unplugged. This will make sure that you don’t accidentally shock yourself.
5. Check for Leaks
Check your engine and the connecting hoses for any leaks, cracks, or wear. These are slow problems that won’t immediately stop your car from running, but they will cause you to lose fluids more quickly as you drive. You don’t want to be halfway to your destination only for your engine fluid to run out, or for a pump or hose to burst and leave you stranded on the highway. If you find any leaks or wear, have it fixed before you go on a long drive.
Not Just for Christmas
Although Christmas is the holiday coming up and we wanted to remind everyone just in case, be sure this inspection should be routine before any vacation. Never go on a long trip out of town without making sure your car is ready to handle it. These five checks will help you prevent any foreseeable accidents. After that, it’s a matter of road safety.
So, drive safely and enjoy your Christmas.
If you need any assistance with the basic safety inspection, don’t hesitate to ask us. Get in touch with us and schedule an appointment. We can take care of everything so you don’t have to worry.