Our family loves road trips. Living in Los Angeles we are blessed with a myriad of day trip options as well as fun weekend trips. But before we embark on any adventure we always check to make sure our vehicles are in top shape.
We’ve got three vehicles, all of which are best suited for a certain type of drive. My wife’s 1983 300D Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel is the stylish one of the three. It gets the best mileage and even though it’s the oldest it is arguably the most reliable. We do most of the work on the car ourselves and can find everything we need at our local AutoZone. My 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ62 is the newest vehicle for us and definitely an overlanding/camping/adventure mobile. It’s got four-wheel drive and is a bit rough around the edges, but that’s great for hitting the trails as we won’t get too sad with desert pinstriping. Our main family vehicle is a 2008 F150 Lariat. It’s got plenty of room for our son in the back seat as well as whatever coolers, luggage, and gear we want to pile up. With three vehicles to maintain, none under warranty, we rely on AutoZone to make sure we have everything we need.
There are five maintenance tasks you should be aware of and monitor on your vehicle at all times, but especially before hitting the road for an extended drive. These are DIY projects that just take a few minutes to complete and can improve the performance and safety of your vehicle.
1. Check Your Tire Pressure
Low tire pressure is one of the most common causes of poor gas mileage. Even if your tires are just a few pounds low on air, it can cost you big bucks at the gas station. Conversely, if your tires are overinflated it can cause wandering and your handling will be poor. Quality tire pressure gauges are inexpensive and you should have one in every vehicle you own. We prefer the dial gauges over the pen style.
2. Check Your Oil
Neglecting to change your oil can damage your engine beyond repair. By checking your oil at least once a month you can make sure to stay on top of your oil level and by changing your oil based on manufacturers suggestions, you’ll prolong the life of your vehicle.
3. Check Your Air Filter
Engines need to breathe, and a clogged air filter can lead to all types of performance problems. Air filter elements are easy to check and replace if needed. Don’t mess with the types that never need replacing or can be cleaned. Use the replaceable filters and start fresh
4. Use a Fuel Additive
You can improve the life of your engine and its performance by using a fuel additive that is designed to clean the injectors and keep the fuel system running smoothly. We use one about once a month as our cars have high mileage and we need to stay up with the maintenance a bit more.
5. Monitor Your Dash Gauges
Learn what each gauge indicates on your instrument panel. Speedometer and RPM indicator are front and center, as well as your fuel gauge. Keep an eye on the battery, oil pressure, and temperature as well. Know what the dials should look like when everything is running well, so you know what they will look like if there is a problem. You can often prevent a major issue by addressing it if you catch it in time.
By taking care of your own car maintenance you won’t have to deal with the cost and headache that a dealer or auto shop can be. Check out your local AutoZone for everything you need to prepare your car for your next adventure.
This post is brought to you by AutoZone; the opinions are all mine.