Do this: Your mechanical checklist before a roadtrip

I like driving old vehicles for a lot of reasons, but the most important reason is that I know how to and I enjoy working on them. That being said, being broken down on a roadtrip is a real bummer. On one trip from VA to CA I blew out a shock and front driveshaft 6 hours into the first day of the drive. All of that would have been avoided if I had just done a once or twice over before I left.

That’s me with the blown radiator on the way into the US via San Ysidro. It all worked out.

Don’t do what I did. Do this instead:

Check or change your fluids.

  • Oil
  • Transmission
  • Differentials
  • Antifreeze flush. Do not put water in your radiator unless it calls for it.
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • A/C? Get that MF charged if it needs it
  • Windshield washer fluid

Grease your joints and check your mounts

  • A grease gun is cheap and all grease fittings are the same. Get in there and lube them up. Doing this will eliminate a lot of troubles down the road. Ball joints and tie-rods, man.
  • Give a gander at all the shock mounts. They eventually go bad and will ruin your front end if not replaced (for a whole $3).
  • Give your tires a shake and look for any play. That’s the first sign of a bad wheel-hub, the Death Wobble is the last.

Check your brakes and tires

  • Are your brake squishy or do they need to be changed?
  • How much tread is on those tires? Can you see Abe’s head?
  • Rotate your tires.
  • Have a spare tire and know how to use it.

Check the lights

  • Make sure you don’t have any reasons to be pulled over. Check all of your bulbs and signals.

Give your ride some TLC

  • Whip up a nice bubble bath and treat your ride. Give it a nice deep clean inside and out.

If you are uncomfortable with doing your own vehicle maintenance call a professional. If you’re in SoCal and want me to take a look at van, send me a message. I’d be happy to help you get where you’re going.

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