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September 24, 2016

Pre-Trip Car Checks: Part III
By Scott Roush

Tire Care

Maintaining your tires is an easy task that only takes a few minutes and can save both money and headaches. And you don't even need to take your car to a mechanic to do this.

First, make sure your tires are all properly inflated. Under-inflation can cause unnecessary stress on tires, early and irregular treadwear and poor gas mileage. Get to know how your tires look when they are properly inflated. Also, use a tire pressure gauge to check your tires. Refer to your owner's manual for correct tire inflation. Don't go by the figure on the sidewall of the tire. That is the maximum tire pressure, not the proper tire pressure.

Before your trip, check your spare tire to make sure it's there and inflated. Also, make sure you know where your jack is and how to use it. If it makes you feel more comfortable, practice changing a tire before you leave.

You can check the wear on your tires' treads by placing a penny with Lincoln upside down in the tread. If you see his hairline, your tires need replacement.

More Tips

What is the one component that is most taken for granted by vehicle owners? If you said windshield wipers, you're right. Most people wait far too long to replace wipers. They should be replaced at least once a year regardless of how often they are used.

If you are going somewhere warm on your trip, you're going to want your car's air conditioning system to be working properly. The two most common problems with vehicle air conditioning are refrigerant leaks and inoperative compressors. If you think your system is not cooling off the car like it used to, take your car to a mechanic to have it inspected.

Pop open the hood of your car and check your air filter. Fan it open to check the amount of dirt. The filter should be replaced every 7,500 miles. While you have the hood open, check your hoses and belts for leaks, cracks, frays or bulges. Belts should not deflect more that half an inch when pushed down with your finger. Make sure hose clamps are secure.

Checking fuses is another good idea before your trip. The fuse box is usually found under the dashboard. Replace fuses that are burned out. The wire is separated in a burned-out fuse.

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