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Author Aaron RobinsonNotes from the Road

Preparing the Family Car for that Summer Road Trip
By Aaron Robinson

The summer road trip is as American as apple pie and Fourth of July fireworks, so don’t fail in your national duty to hit the road this year just because Old Nellie is overdue for some care and maintenance.

Those who neglect doing a quick mechanical check-over – even of newer cars – before taking to the highway, are just begging to be stranded. Most likely in the desert, just out of range of the nearest cell tower, with vultures circling overhead in the otherwise azure-blue sky, which would be postcard-perfect if you weren’t worried about having your eyes pecked out. 

So what does Old Nellie want? We’re not talking about rebuilding the cylinder head or performing a line-bore on the crankshaft mains. Below are just a few reminders that may slip your mental checklist in the rush to get bags packed, kids fed, grandma watered, and all the maps folded the way they were when new.

“The most critical areas to check before going on a driving trip are engine fluids, radiator hoses, belts, tires and brakes,” says Pat Goss, car care guru and co-host of PBS’s MotorWeek TV show. “Adequately preparing these key areas of the car before you leave for your trip will not only keep you safe while driving on vacation, they’ll help prevent costly repairs. No one wants to spend money fixing their car during a vacation.”

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