The list of preparing for holiday travel can get very long: packing, making any dishes you volunteered to bring, laundry…the list can go on and on. The most overlooked items on your list are the preparations that get you your holiday travel destination: getting your car ready for the trip. Before you head out on the road with the thousands of other Wisconsinites, make sure you’ve checked off all the items on the checklist that gets your car travel-ready (or made a last minute appointment with your mechanic before you hit the road).
Check (and listen to) your brakes
Your brakes are important for your safety whether you are traveling down the street or across the country. Before you head out for Thanksgiving, have a mechanic check your brakes or pay special attention for these signs of failing brakes before your trip.
Check your tire pressure
Nothing can ruin your Thanksgiving travel like a flat tire from low tire pressure. Use a tire pressure gauge to check your tire pressure, or have your mechanic check to make sure you have correct tire pressure when you get an oil change.
Check your tire tread
Have a mechanic check the tread wear indicators, or check them yourself with this simple test: when you put a penny in the tread of your tires, you shouldn’t be able to see all of Lincoln’s head. If you can, it’s time for new tires that can get you to your Thanksgiving destination and back home.
Check your battery (and battery connections)
Cold temperatures are hard on batteries (especially sub-freezing temps, depending on where you’re headed for Thanksgivng). Colder temperatures turn your car fluids to the consistency of molasses; this means your battery has to work extra hard to start your engine. To make sure your battery starts every time on your trip, inspect your battery connections, clean off any corrosion or rust, and watch for any signs your battery needs to be replaced.
Make sure you have headlights, brake lights & blinkers
Depending on how soon you need to get there—and how much you like your friends or family and the length of your visit—you’re probably going to need headlights and taillights. You always need brake lights and blinkers. Check every light on your vehicle before you hit the road, and make an emergency trip to the auto parts store or to your mechanic if any of your lights isn’t, well, lighting.
Replace your windshield wipers and washer
Windshield wipers are one of the cheapest and most valuable parts of your car—especially when it’s raining or snowing. Fill up your windshield washer, check your windshield wipers, and replace any parts that aren’t doing their job.
Check your oil
Oil is vital to the health of your engine on your Thanksgiving road trip, and for every trip you intend to make in your car for the near future. Check you oil level, and get it changed if you haven’t done so recently. The good news is you still have time to make an appointment before you head out on your Thanksgiving road trip.