Your car is an oft-overlooked staple in your life until a mishap strikes (like a punctured tire). Think about it — it gives you:
- Independence: You don’t have to rely on public transportation or others to get somewhere
- Speed: You get to travel farther and faster than you would with a walk
- Memories: Recall all the fun times you’ve had in your car with your loved ones
As November rolls in and you start making Thanksgiving travel plans, it’s the perfect time to pause and reflect on the blessings in your life, embracing the spirit of Thanksgiving day. And what better way to kick off this month of gratitude than by acknowledging your four-wheeled friend for its unwavering loyalty?
So, here are some tips on car care for Thanksgiving, as also suggested by the Car Care Council:
1. Keep Your Ride Spiffy
No one likes a grubby car.
Sure, it might look cool after an off-roading adventure, but without regular vehicle maintenance, all that grime can damage not only your vehicle’s body but its critical parts, too.
If you live in areas near the sea or wintry places where road salt is used, there’s more reason to keep your car clean, as salt can damage your paintwork and cause rust.
So, wash your car with water (don’t just wipe it) every 2 weeks or so, and give it a wax every 3 months. Don’t forget to clean the interior too!
2. Check Wipers and Grease the Hinges
You don’t realize how vital your wiper blades are until you get into a spot of heavy rain or snow. Your road visibility is critical, and windshield wipers that don’t function properly could very well lead to a car accident.
Misaligned windshield wipers could also scratch your windshield. Yikes!
Wipers are pretty cheap and easy to replace, and if it’s been more than 6 months since you last replaced them, it’s indeed the right time to swap them out. While you’re at it, you can also apply some grease spray to your door hinges and locks. That’ll keep them working well and eliminate creaky noises.
3. Pump the Tires and Check Your Brakes
As you prep for your Thanksgiving road trip, ensure that your tires are adequately inflated, and your brakes provide sufficient stopping force in different road conditions.
Tire pressure plays an essential role in the maintenance of your ride quality, vehicle safety, and fuel economy and in preventing excessive wear of tire tread. You’ll usually find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle on a decal inside the driver’s door. But if that’s missing, some general guidelines are usually found near the tire pump itself.
The right amount of tire pressure ensures good road grip and even tire wear, and it won’t cost you anything to pump some air. Remember to check the tire pressure every 1,000 miles you travel. You could also rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles for even wear or swap them with winter tires if necessary.
Likewise, check for any strange or high-pitched noises from your brakes. A squealing sound often indicates worn brake pads, so you should head to an auto repair shop to get them looked at. Without adequate brake force, you’ll be more prone to a car accident — not a good way to spend your Thanksgiving break!
4. Give Your Battery Some TLC
The last thing drivers and Thanksgiving travelers need on a road trip is calling roadside assistance because of a battery that won’t crank the engine. Battery problems are fairly common, especially when your battery is over 3 years old.
Terminal corrosion is something you can deal with yourself if it’s not too extensive. But if your battery often hiccups during start-up or looks out of shape, it might be time to go to an auto repair shop for a new battery.
With temperatures dropping in most places, your battery may also grow weak. Come by for a battery test before the Thanksgiving holiday to see if your battery can handle smooth start-ups.
5. Top Up All Fluids
Your car uses different fluids for vehicle maintenance, and it’s important to keep these topped at the correct level before you head out for your road trip:
- Engine oil (motor oil) keeps engine components lubricated
- Wiper fluid (windshield washer solvent) cleans your windshield of grime
- Power steering fluid helps lighten the load when you steer
- Brake fluid transmits brake pressure from your foot to the brakes
- Transmission fluid keeps your gears running cool and smoothly
- Coolant keeps your engine temperature in check
Important: Check the coolant level only when your engine has cooled down. Hot coolant can lead to severe burn injuries.
As a part of routine maintenance, also check your engine and cabin filters if they need to be replaced. Air filters can affect your fuel efficiency and engine performance.
Additionally, the Car Care Council suggests keeping your emergency kit restocked. It typically includes:
- First aid kit
- Electronic accessories like a phone charge
- Spare batteries
- Pet essentials
To make the most of your Thanksgiving weekend, these are just a few simple ways to show your car the appreciation it merits during the holiday season.