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How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

In the land of purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain, road trips are as much a fall tradition as carving pumpkins and baking apple pies. There’s a lifetime’s worth of exploring to do in America, and when the refreshing fall air kicks in and the leaves start changing, many families take an opportunity to explore the great outdoors!

But like any major endeavor, a road trip needs some preparation! After all, you’re relying on one thing to get you hither and yon — your trusty metal steed. (That’s your car, of course.) If a tire blows or your radiator overheats, you could be in for some unpleasant scenery as you wait for rescue by the side of the highway. A tow-truck ride is a dispiriting end to an otherwise delightful vacation day!

So before you set out, sit down and make a list. What do you need to do to prepare your car for a road trip?

1) Make sure you have a roadside assistance kit.

Start with the worst-case scenario first. If you do break down by the side of the road, you’ll need to be prepared to wait as long as it takes to get help — even if that’s overnight. Make sure your phone is charged before you set out, that you have a car charger, and that you have what you need in case of a roadside emergency. Your kit should include staples like a first-aid items, a flashlight, gloves and a tire iron, as well as items you may not normally think about, like a space blanket (no, really! Check them out!) and road flares.

2) Inspect your tires.

Whatever you do, don’t start a road trip with worn-out tires. It’s dangerous, not just to you, but to other drivers on the road. If you see cracking, bulges or bubbles on the sidewall, that’s a warning sign. So is a thin tread. (Measure this by putting a penny into the tread, head first. Can you see Lincoln’s head? Then it’s time for a change.) Depending on how long a road trip you’re planning, the miles you put on your old tires might just mean the end of the line for them. Don’t chance it — get ahead of the problem before you start your trip, and get new tires if you need them.

3) Properly inflate your tires.

This one seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to do it. Before you start out, get your tire pressure gauge (you do have one, right?), and check the air pressure in your tires. If your tires came with your car from the factory, the recommended air pressure will probably be included in your car owner’s manual. If they’re low, fill the tires up to the correct pressure. This will ensure that all tires are operating evenly, so that you don’t experience alignment problems as your road trip continues.

4) Check all your fluids.

Most people remember to check their oil, but how about checking the rest of your fluids? Coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and window-washing fluid are all vital parts of your car’s operation. (Okay, so window-washing fluid isn’t vital, exactly, but it sure is convenient to have when you’re rolling down a beach road being peppered by bugs.) Make sure all your fluids are properly topped off. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, no problem — it’s an easy, quick fix at Chapel Hill Tire!

5) Check your windshield wipers.

If you’ve noticed streaks on your windshield the last few times it’s rained, you probably need new wipers. Not sure? It’s good to double-check. Pick up each wiper and look for signs of discoloration, cracking or jagged edges on the rubber of the wiper blade — the part that actually contacts the windshield. If you need new wipers, don’t wait until you’re at the top of that majestic mountain pass in a thunderstorm to find out! You can replace them easily yourself, or let the experts at Chapel Hill Tire do the job!

Have you done these five things? Then pack your car and turn up the radio, because it’s time for some road-trip fun! Chapel Hill Tire hopes that wherever your wandering heart takes you, you have a blast — and do it safely!

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