This post is in partnership with Dulles Chrysler Dodge Jeep.
It’s summer time again – the kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and for many families, it’s vacation time! The last thing you want on a family vacation is for the car to break down on you. Used cars are a great way to save money and get more value for your dollar, but since you aren’t the first owner, you’ll want to make sure things are up to your standards before a trip. Here are some important ways to prepare your used car for your family’s summer vacation:
Check the brakes before any long trip. If the brakes are visibly worn and thin, or if they squeal or pulsate when you press the brakes firmly, you probably need to get them replaced. If you are going on a cross country trip, you might want to have your brake lines checked for leaks or worn areas, too. Brakes are probably one of the single most important items on the car – even if the engine goes out, you need the brakes to get yourself stopped safely.
Check your fluids and tires to make sure everything’s full and in good condition. You may get the oil changed regularly, but have you checked the brake fluid and power steering fluid? How about the washer fluid? It’s easy to overlook until you need to wash something off the windshield and no fluid comes out. Make sure the fluids and tires are all filled according to your car’s manual, and you won’t have to worry about them while on vacation!
Inspect for worn belts, hoses, and leaks, especially for long trips. Replace a worn belt now to save money. Not only will you likely pay more for a replacement and labor or tools while out of town, a broken belt can damage other parts in the engine compartment. Check that all hoses are attached firmly and aren’t leaking. If you’re unsure about a potential leak, make note of it so you can monitor fluid levels each time you stop along your route.
Look over the electrical system. Many auto parts retailers will test your battery and alternator for free to make sure it’s not going to quit on you during the trip. Check all of your lights and turn signals. Then check your dash for any of those pesky warning lights that may need attention.
Get the junk out of the trunk. It’s an easy place to clutter, but you won’t want to wade through a winter’s worth of clutter to find what you need on your trip. While cleaning it out, make sure to check your spare tire (your spare may be under the vehicle or attached to the rear). Make sure it’s inflated, and holds air. Check your compartments to make sure you have a safe jack and a lug wrench, and a jack stand is a great idea to add in there.