Post-Holiday Road Trip Maintenance

December 3rd, 2015

Some people love road trips and driving, other people hate it. Regardless of how you feel about it, we’re now inbetween Thanksgiving and Christmas, meaning it’s the time of year that people are racking up lots of miles on their odometers. While you’re recuperating from the Thanksgiving drive, your vehicle might need a little break as well. Here are a few things to get a look at before the next road trip starts:

·         Oil change: When was your last one? If you’re using conventional oil, a 5,000 mile interval is usually recommended. For synthetic motor oil, it’s OK to go 10-12,000 miles before an oil change. Just remember that your engine relies on clean oil to lubricate moving parts and disperse the heat of friction. What kind of shape is your oil in?

·         Tires: It’s December, and you know you’re likely to run into some nasty weather and road conditions during holiday travel. It’s a good idea to check your tires’ tread depth before hitting the road again. The minimum tread depth for tires, according to state law, is 2/32” – insert a penny into the treads, Abe’s head down. Does the rubber reach the top of Lincoln’s head? That’s a tread depth of 2/32”. For a 4/32” depth, the tread should reach the top of Washington’s head when inserting a quarter into the tread the same way. At 6/32” depth, the tread should reach the base of the Lincoln Memorial on a penny. If you’re scheduling an oil change, it’s a good idea to also have a tire rotation performed…and of course, be sure to check all four tires for proper inflation.

·         Fluids: You know it’s going to get cold, so it’s a good idea to have the condition of your engine coolant checked. If the coolant is looking old and dirty or the hygroscopic text shows it’s starting to weaken, you may want to flush the system and have it replaced. Don’t forget the transmission fluid, power steering and brake fluid and (of course) windshield washer fluid.

·         Wipers: Even the best wipers are only good for about a year, as the elements and normal wear take their toll on them. If your wipers are starting to streak or smudge in the rain, have them replaced.

·         Lights: Slush, snow and rain will build up grime on your headlight lenses, compromising your visibility in night driving. Make sure your headlights and taillights are good and clean, and that all the lights on your vehicle are in good working order.

·         Finish: Snow, rain and slush means a thick film of road grime for your vehicle. A wash job before your next trip means not just a better-looking car, but less of a chance for corrosion to eat away at your finish, sheet metal and frame.

·         Trouble kit: Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it! A well-equipped trouble bag should include a crank flashlight, blanket, high-protein snacks, a blanket, first-aid kit, duct tape, highway flares, a Leatherman-type multi-tool and a power bank for your cell phone, for starters.

The good news is that highway miles are the best kind of miles you can put on a vehicle. Running for hours at a constant speed and steady state is much less stressful on a vehicle than stop-and-start driving around town. With the right maintenance and care, your vehicle should be ready to go for many comfortable, dependable highway miles this holiday season! 


Are you thinking it might be time to give your vehicle a quick once-over before the next road trip comes up? Give us a call at Don Owen Tire in Bloomington, IL and let our technicians take a look. 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101