It’s May, which means Memorial Day is right around the corner. Memorial Day means cookouts and parades, and it also means the beginning of summer road trip season. After a long winter, your vehicle needs some TLC before heading out. Here are some suggestions for getting your car road worthy and ready for a long trip:
- Check out your tires. There’s three parts to this one. First, check your tire pressure. If your tire pressure is off, it will affect your safety and fuel economy, and negatively impact the life of your tires. Second, check the tire tread to make sure your tires have enough life in them. If you see any uneven wear, get them checked out before your trip. Also make sure the tread depth is appropriate. Legally, you must have 2/32 inch tread on the tires, which you can check with a penny. Place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 inch of tread depth remaining. But a new study shows that it’s safer to conduct the same test with a quarter instead, which provides 4/32 inch tread depth. Third, check your spare tire to make sure it has the right amount of air and is in good shape.
- Pack an emergency kit. No matter how new your car or how well you take care of it, sometimes bad stuff happens. Some of the basics you should have are a flashlight; a first-aid kit; a warning light, hazard triangle or flares; spare fuses; $20 in small bills and change; and a jack and lug wrench. This Consumer Reports article offers a full list of items you should have in your car in case of emergency.
- Check your lights and signals. Walk around the vehicle and make sure your headlights and turn signals work. Have someone help you check the brake lights, too. You don’t want to get pulled over on vacation for having non-working lights!
- Check your wiper blades. Make sure they are not cracked or rough and that they actually clean your windshield. If they are old and not doing that great a job, that can be a huge safety issue. You need to be able to see where you are going and what’s up ahead.
- Make sure you have an oil change if needed. Bring your vehicle in and we’ll also check all your fluid levels and top them off if needed, so you can scratch that job off the list!
- Get your records together. Make sure you have your license, insurance and registration (and check that they won’t expire while you are gone.) And make sure you have the number of your roadside-assistance plan handy in case you need help.