How to prep your car for a road trip – roadshow gas oil ratio for weed eater


• Tire tread. Shove George Washington into the tread via an upside down quarter. The top of his head should be at least somewhat obscured to indicate that a reasonable amount of tread is left. You can also look at the tire wear bars that run across the face of the tire. If they are flush with the tread, you need new tires.

• Tire pressure. Use a good quality gauge, not the one that pops out of the inflator everyone beats on at the gas station. Look for a label inside your car door or gas filler door to find the correct pressure numbers and know that those are the figures for a cold tire.

• Oil level. This is key. You want to have a full level of motor oil before you start a trip, even if its not the freshest. Here, quantity matters more than quality, at least in the short term. A car that runs out of oil on the road will not only strand you for the time being, but also may never come back to life.

• Light bulbs. No part of a modern car is more like a snap-fit model kit than lights. You’ll need few if any tools to replace bad bulbs these days, though checking brake lamps remains tricky without a helper (a nearby reflective store window can help). And if you are going to be driving an unfamiliar car, know how the headlights work. A lot of people in strange cars think their headlights are on when just the daytime running lights are activated, leaving the back end of their car dark at night.

• Battery inspection. Nothing will stop you dead on your trip like a bad battery. Check its terminals for corrosion that prevent power from flowing out of it and charge from flowing into it. Neutralize and clean corrosion with baking soda, a little water and a toothbrush. Wipe everything clean, then put the terminals back on and seal with battery terminal spray.

• Window policies. Google the window tint level and device mount policies in the state(s) you’re driving to. You can get a primary or at least secondary citation for breaking these rules that surprise a lot of drivers. Not much you can do about tint, but mounting your phone where its legal is easy to comply with.

• Brake pads. Pull off each wheel (though the fronts matter most) to get a look at the brake calipers with the pads peeking though them. Measure pad thickness and compare to the minimum specified by your carmaker, which you can search Google to find factory service manual citations. Like with tires, brake pads have wear indicators that make a horrendous squeal when they’re down to replacement thickness.

• Check your belt(s). Most car engines have a single, critical belt that runs the A/C, alternator to charge the battery, water pump to cool the engine and often the pump that makes the power steering work. That’s a lot to go wrong if the belt breaks. Judge the belt by the mileage since it was replaced or new, cracks in the ribs on its underside or, most worrisome, small pieces missing from those ribs.

The last tip is to load your car inside as much as possible; Anything on the roof will reduce MPG, performance and possibly create wind noise and garage clearance issues. If you have to block the rear view mirror, you will probably be OK with the law as long as you have two functioning side view mirrors and use them. But know that your reactions in a sudden slow down will be impaired as the rear view is probably the first place you’ll look.