Most of us don’t give a second thought about our cars until some sort of warning light pops up to tell us it’s time to take it in for service. But every year around this time many of us are depending on these vehicles to get us home safely to our loved ones. Here’s some things to check before you head out on the highway.
First, check your tires. Check the entire tire for tread wear. Using a penny, place it inside the tread with Abe’s head sticking down. If you can see the top of his hair then it’s time for new tires. Tread depth is not the only thing you should check though, also check the entire tire for signs of cracking and heat wear. Tires older than 5 years start to crack after being through so many heat cycles, these tires are more susceptible to blow outs when put under a lot of stress. Lastly, check the inflation pressure to make sure it’s correct. The factory specs can be found in the driver door jam. Tires should be adjusted when cold.
Now while you’re there, see if you can take a peek at those brake pads to make sure they still have enough life. Some cars are easier than others, but if you have a small mirror it also helps. A brake pad has an inside lining and a outside backing plate. The inner lining (inside pad material) should be thicker or at least as thick as the backing plate. If the inside is lower than the outside, it probably is time for new brakes.
Lastly pop the hood open and check all the fluids. The main fluids to keep an eye on are the engine oil, and the engine coolant as well as the transmission fluid if your vehicle is automatic. The most important thing is that the fluids are full, if they are discolored then you’ll probably want to get each system checked and serviced.
Lastly check the battery. Is there any corrosion you can see? Corrosion is caused by hydrogen being released from the acid in your battery and depending on which terminal it’s on, it could mean it’s overcharging or undercharging. An overcharging battery will corrode the Positive (+) terminal while an under-charging battery will corrode the negative (-) terminal. Most auto repair shops or parts stores will run a battery test for you free of charge.
Now that everything is checked you can head out on the road with peace of mind. Don’t forget to take a quick peek under the hood every time you stop for gas. If ever you are unsure of your vehicle’s road worthiness feel free to stop by MR Auto SD and more than happy to check it out and make sure you and your car make it wherever you need to go safely.