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Any trip can be exciting to plan for, everyone likes to travel and visit new places. We are often afraid we’ll forget an item and often do forget one of the most critical parts of planning a trip, a pre-trip car inspection. Doing this can make the difference between an enjoyable, relaxing vacation and an expensive repair or even a life threatening situation.

Maintaining the manufacturer recommended routine maintenance ensures the basics are covered for any trip. A trip to your mechanic for a pre-trip check-up can be a time-consuming and costly option. Most reputable garages can offer an oil change, check and fill your fluid levels, your tire pressures and other basic checks that are done for a standard service. If you want to save money and you know something about cars, the best option is to do your own pre-trip at home. Make sure that you have the right equipment and do the checks on a level surface also be sure to do the check when the engine and other components are cool. The equipment you will need include a tire pressure gauge, some spare engine oil, a trash bag and paper towels. Make sure that you check your owner’s manual to ensure your vehicle does not need specific checks that are unique to your car.

Start with a visual inspection of the exterior of your car for any loose panels or trim. Make sure that your windscreen wipers are not worn or brittle. Use a water hose rinse away bugs or debris through the grill on the front of the vehicle. Checking tyres is the most critical check you can do, is there sufficient tread and are there any unusual bumps or bubbles on the sidewalls of the tire? Check if there is any visible metal where the steel belts have worn through the bottom of the tyre. Physically feel with your hand for screws or other objects that may be lodged in or penetrated the tires. Make a note of any sharp objects to be removed and get the tyres repaired. Check the tyre pressure in each tyre when the tires are cold and make sure the pressure matches the manufacturer’s recommended cold tire pressure. Lastly check that all four valve caps are tightened and do not forget to perform the same checks on the spare tyre in the boot.

Test your lights, including the high and low beams of your headlights, brake lights, indicators and hazard lights. Get the brakes professionally checked and replace them if worn. Lastly check your fluids, namely; the oil, brake fluid, wiper water, radiator water levels and transmission fluid.

Get into a habit of performing these checks before any long trip to preserve the life of your car as well as your family. Most car insurance companies and car manufacturers recommend this. Once these tasks are completed you can relax and enjoy your trip.