By November 22, 20050 Comments Read More →

Get Your Car Road Trip Ready WIth These Simple Car Repair Tips

Reader Question: I am
taking a road trip with my family, is there some kind of repair
schedule I should ask my mechanic to perform before I hit the

Dear concerned car

I get at least one customer a week who brings their car to my
shop and says, "I'm going on an out-of-state road trip
with the family, would you please look my car over and make sure
it is road-worthy"? My reply is, "Sure, we can do that,
when are you leaving?" You would be surprised at how often I
hear, "Tomorrow."

Now I know that during the planning stages of an out-of-town
road trip, some things could possibly be overlooked till the last
minute, but you would think at least one thing would have come to
mind: reliable transportation! Breaking down on a road trip with
a carload of college buddies and a cooler of beer used to be fun,
but for most of the normal driving public, breaking down on the
side of the road can be a nightmare. So, if you are planning a
road trip, place a good deal of emphasis on preparing your
vehicle. Allowing your mechanic ample time to inspect and repair
your vehicle properly should be your number one priority.

Some ideas for vehicle road-worthiness would

1. Take your car to your regular mechanic's
shop two weeks prior to your trip. Hopefully you have a regular
mechanic that you know and trust. This should NOT be a quick-lube
type place, but a full service repair shop or new car dealership.
I personally would not want to test the workmanship of a new
mechanic on a road trip with my family. Two weeks prior?
Definitely. Give your mechanic time to make necessary repairs,
and some room for adjustments. If your mechanic finds problems
and repairs parts on your vehicle, you will want a week or so
"break in period" to test the fix(s) before you hit the
road. In most cases, if anything goes wrong after major repairs,
it will be in the first 100-200 miles. Give yourself enough time
to feel confident that the repairs made will not be an issue as
soon as you get outside your city limits.

2. Make sure that you have the following items
in your car before you leave:
Flashlight, pen, paper, and disposable camera. Just in case of
an accident, take lots of pictures of the scene, the other car
involved (including license plate), the other driver , and anyone
else in their car, etc. Take pictures of the road condition i.e.
was it wet, was there an obstacle in the road that could have
caused the accident, was it at a intersection with a stop sign or
traffic light, if at night was it lit and well marked? Get
business cards or contact information from anyone that could be a
witness, and if at all possible get them to give their statement
to the police officer at the scene. It seems that a few days
after an accident the memory of small details becomes cloudy and
unclear to some people, and in worst cases the story of how,
where, and who was involved in the accident can become

3. Take along some extra supplies that your car
might need while on the road. A new bottle of anti-freeze, engine
oil, and transmission fluid could really come in handy if a
roadside emergency were to occur. A can of Fix-A- Flat, jumper
cables, small box of tools including screw drivers, pliers, a few
spare radiator hose clamps that you can get from your mechanic,
roll of electrical tape, and a hand towel to wipe your hands
should all be packed in your car. Fix-A-Flat should only be used
in case of an emergency and not to be used just to add a small
amount of air to the tires. Fix-A-Flat and other products like it
require that the tire be removed from the wheel, and the product
be removed from inside the tire and a permanent repair be
preformed. Caution: Some tire
sealants are flammable and all are very messy and sticky, so you
will appreciate the towel to wipe off your hands.

4. A few recommendations that will aid in driver
comfort are: Install new wiper blades and fill up the washer
bottle with windshield washer solvent to help keep the windshield
clean (seems wiper blades are never thought about unless it is
raining). Bring along sunglasses, a few of your favorite music
cd's or cassettes, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and
bring a jacket and rain gear just incase you have to be outside
your vehicle for an emergency situation. A cell phone is a very
helpful tool to have on your travels, but make sure you will have
reception in the region you are traveling in, and don't
forget the battery charger. Some cell phone companies offer
roadside assistance for its customers, call your cell phone
service provider and see if this service is offered.

Have your mechanic perform all regular scheduled maintenance on
your car before you head off on your travels, and make sure to
tell him where you will be going. If I know that you are going to
be traveling in a hilly, snowy location pulling a small trailer I
would make sure to inspect items that would be more prone to
cause trouble in that kind of situation. Traveling through a hot
arid dessert would require a different inspection than a winter

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