Business & Finance

Maplewood Meineke Thanksgiving Road Trip Inspection Check

Don't be a turkey, be prepared! Credits: Maplewood Meineke

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Americans across our nation are preparing to travel to visit friends and loved ones. According to AAA, 43.6 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles from home during the long holiday weekend last year, more than 90% of them by automobile. To ensure a safe and trouble-free Thanksgiving Road Trip, inspect your vehicle using Maplewood Meineke's Road Trip Checklist before you hit the road.

Inspecting your vehicle is easy for do-it-yourselfers or just bring it to Maplewood Meineke ( & we can perform a pre-trip vehicle inspection and advise you of any issues that may need attention. 
Tires: Check both tire pressure and tread wear. Tire pressure should be inspected with a tire pressure gauge, and tires should be inflated to your manufacturer’s specifications. Improperly inflated tires, or tires beyond their tread life, significantly reduce handling, especially in wet weather. 

Battery: Ensure the battery cable connections are tight, and the terminals are free from corrosion. If the bettery is more than 3 years old, it's a good idea to have it tested to determine how much life it has left.

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Fluids: Putting an eyeball on these six fluid levels before leaving home for the holidays can save you stress and repair bills. In no particular order, check: your oil level, the transmission fluid, your coolant (antifreeze) level, the brake fluid, your power-steering fluid & windshield wiper fluid.  Thanksgiving weather can be highly unpredictable. In any conditions, wiper fluid is your best friend. It keeps your field of vision clear, a plus at anytime of the day or night.

Thermostat & Defroster: When you are checking the cooling system, make sure the engine thermostat is working as designed. A malfunctioning thermostat can make a car overheat, but a lesser known problem in the winter is that it will take the car longer to warm up, making it uncomfortable to drive and causing a reduction in fuel economy.  While you are at it, make sure the defroster works. You never know how much you need a defroster until you miss it. 

Belts and Hoses: Also take a look at the belts and hoses and look for any signs of cracking. A failure there can leave you stranded without warning.

Wiper Blades: Eventually, the rubber blades of your windshield wipers will begin to degrade. When that happens, it’s time for new ones. Don’t forget the rear wiper blade for wagons, minivans and SUVs. Cleaning your glass and side mirrors before traveling is also wise. Good visibility improves safety.

Lights: Be sure your headlights, high beams, front parking lamps and front turn signals, taillights and rear turn signals, brake lights (including center-mounted brake light), reverse lights and license plate lights are all functional. Replace any inoperable lights. Along with being a safety and visibility issue, a malfunctioning tail light or burnt-out left turn signal could get you pulled over.

Brake Inspection: Brakes are essential to safety, so it’s wise to be sure they’re in good condition. Check your brake pads for wear. Check your rotors for grooves or damage, too. Finally, be sure that no brake fluid leaks are evident on or near the caliper.

Gasoline: Before leaving the house, make sure the gauge shows as full. While in transit, re-fuel as your tank nears the half-full line. Nothing is more frustrating— and dangerous — than sitting on the side of the road out of gas, needing to walk to the local station. 

Prepare an emergency kit: In the unfortunate event that you have an accident, it’s smart to keep a well-stocked emergency kit within arms reach in the vehicle. This kit should include, among other things: extra water and snacks, a flashlight, blanket, first aid supplies, common tools and emergency flares. On a related note, be sure to have a spare tire on hand as well as a tire jack.  Need to build an emergency kit? The Red Cross provides a good list of items.

Winterize Your Car: If you know that you might be facing snow or extremely cold conditions during your holiday drive, prepare your car for winter before you leave. In particular, check that you have sufficient antifreeze. 

Call us to look over your car and we can have your car road ready before the holiday!


1796 Springfield Avenue (Corner of Rutgers & Springfield Ave)

Maplewood, NJ 07040


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