10 tips to take good care of your car before you travel
Monday, 6 de February de 2017
Checking your vehicle properly is essential before you hit the road
Clothing for every occasion, accessories, mobile phone charger, health and beauty products, snacks for the road and even medicine are some of the details to think about before traveling, that we often leave one important element for the last minute: our car. After all, what good is it to have the perfect suitcase for your destination if it proves to be useless when standing on the side of the road with your family because your engine overheated? And not to mention the risk of accidents, right? For these and other reasons it is so important to take care of the one companion that will take you and your family to your destination , and bring you back safely.
With this in mind, we’ve listed here, in the first text of our series “Bon Voyage”, 10 tips from experts for the perfect tune-up for your vehicle. “Your car doesn’t know the difference between holidays, weekends, or any other date. It’s all the same. If the maintenance is in order, your vehicle will be your most faithful traveling squire. And if you didn’t take the necessary precautions, it’s not worth blaming the car later! ” Jokes Ricardo Dilser, technical advisor at FCA, (but seriously speaking). So let’s go to the tips:
1. Keep up with tune-ups!
Not only before you travel should you worry about preventive maintenance. You know the importance of keeping your car in shipshape, right? In addition to avoiding the risk of accidents and other inconveniences, the best preventive maintenance preserves the vehicle and reduces its devaluation. Therefore, always respect the scheduled tune-ups. After all, as the popular saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry: “These travel tips are actually part of the care and attention already foreseen and recommended in the Owner’s Manual and should be part of our daily relationship with the car”, says Dilser. Anyway, before traveling it’s important to do a tune-up even though it may not be time for it, of course.
2. Liquids, filters and radiator
Acceleration changes occur less when on the road than in the city, but on the other hand, the average speed is usually higher. And when you are overtaking another car, for example, there is more demand on the engine, which increases the importance of the fluids. This includes engine and transmission oil, coolants, brake fluid, power steering fluid and even the cold start fuel tank, if there is one. These liquids must be in good condition and at the correct levels: no more, no less! For this, not only must one respect the deadlines for the changes, but also check periodically (especially before traveling on the road) the levels and their appearance. A significant drop in the level may indicate a leak, while a strange appearance, especially before the expiration date for change, may indicate another problem. It is also very important to change the filters on time. It is of no use changing the liquid if the filter is dirty, which decreases the life span of the engine components. Take advantage and check the air conditioning and engine air filters too!
3. Electrical systems, headlights and light bulbs
Only those who have tried to start the car with no response from the engine really understand that the electrical part of the vehicle is as important as the mechanical one. After all, the car will only work if you can start the engine (and keep it on). Therefore, it is essential to check the battery, the starter, the alternator and fuses, and of course, make sure that all headlights, taillights and crossover lights are working. It is a safety measure not only for you but for the other drivers as well (in addition to avoiding fines!). The internal lights are also important, especially during a trip, even when you don’t intend to travel at night. You never know when your plans will fly out the window…
4. The timing belt
Going back on the subject of mechanical parts, the parts that can not be left out are the belts. As they wear out over time, it is important to respect the scheduled changes. One part that deserves special attention, if your vehicle is equipped with one, is the timing belt, responsible for the synchronization of the internal components of the engine. If it breaks, the damage is great! If your timing belt is scheduled to be changed soon, you can do it even before the due date as a precaution for the trip. Talk to your trusted mechanic about it.
5. Tires and Wheels
Of course, it’s important to have tires in good condition, especially when you hit the road! Smooth tires are the cause of many accidents- not only do they cause slipping, but they also increase the stopping distance, not to mention the risk of puncturing more easily. Remember to keep them well calibrated for your safety and to save fuel (see more tips on this here). And don’t forget the spare tire! Take the opportunity to check the wheels as well. See if there are no dents, cracks or breaks, or they may need to be replaced…
If the brake pedal is hard, rattling, making noises, or simply less efficient, it is likely that a tune-up is over due. Don’t wait for it to get to that point and have a thorough checkup done, especially before you travel. We have already commented on the fluids, but the discs / drums and the pads are also fundamental to guarantee safety. Talk to your mechanic about it.
Like the brake pedal, the steering wheel itself can rattle if the suspension has problems. Do a complete tune-up of the suspension (even the shock absorbers, springs, mounting sleeves, trays, terminals and pivots!) Also align and balance the wheels. This is essential to ensure the stability of the vehicle at high speeds and saves fuel too. That’s right, a well-aligned car consumes less fuel!
8. Spark Plugs and cables
It’s common for spark plugs and cables to be overlooked during a last-minute checkup. So, make sure you don’t leave the tune-up for the last minute, because you may have to wait for the part to be shipped, for example, or your trusted mechanic might have a full agenda. Having said that, ask about the condition of the spark plugs and the cables. Driving with these parts damaged can compromise other components in your vehicle, in addition to affecting the performance of the engine. “I can guarantee you it can be a great delight to take care of your car. However, if you are not interested, or just do not like the idea, always remember that the authorized dealerships are prepared for the correct maintenance and control of your vehicle”, adds Dilser.
9. Windshield Cleaning System
Okay, so all is well with the mechanical and electrical part of your car so you can now take off, right? Not so fast! Have you checked the wipers? Carefully check the condition of the moving parts and the rubber. You don’t want to get stuck in the rain with damaged components. For this same reason, be sure to check the cleaning fluid reservoir and the defroster/defogger. If your car does not have air conditioning, it is good to have a cotton cloth and defogger spray in the glove compartment.
Tune-up done, car in perfect condition. Wonderful! Still, make sure that the emergency parts like the warning triangle, the jack, the wheel wrench and toolbox are in the vehicle and working! You never know when these tools may be needed … Anyway, with all the care you have taken, it looks like you and your family will have a fantastic trip! Enjoy!
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