When you travel it is helpful to make sure you have all of your maintenance complete prior to the trip. I know this sounds attractive basic, but, I see a lot of people stranded because they did not check simple preservation items before they drove off. Even if you have free towing with your cover it still sucks to sit around waiting for a tow truck on a holiday days.
Here are a few things to always check:
If you cannot remember when you final checked them, it is probably time to check them again. In fact, it is probably time to replace most of them before the trip. Your owner’s manual will give you the proper steps to check all these areas, so look it up there.
That is OK. I would propose you ask your friends or family members who they trust and drive down to spend a few minutes with them. Any reputable shop will gladly show you how to check all this and help make sure you do not have problems on your vacation. Depending on where you live, private shops will charge $40 to $120.00 per hour. The oil check etc. should be free but expect to pay for labor and parts that need to be replaced.
If you are still check all over yourself, here are 2 higher priority problems: First, Serpentine belts. Today, most cars have a single belt that all divers. Good news- only one belt to replace. BAD news- if it fails, you lose the whole enchilada!
How to check your belt. Look at the belt. There are two sides: a smooth side and a ribbed side. Look at the ribbed side-the belt wind around special pulleys so you should be able to see the ribbed piece. On the smooth side does it seem glossy glaze like a donut? ALL of these are bad news.
Change the belt. Belts are fairly cheap, $40-$70 in most cases. FYI I have seen belts break and take out the idler, tensioned, fan, water pump and, once even the radiator. Second high priority item.
The battery. If you travel with an electric cooler or anything else that drains the battery, inverters for DVDs, games, and extra. make sure your battery terminals are clean and there is no corrosion on the wires. Make sure you disconnect the battery zappers when you shut the car off.
Final note, always make sure the interior lights are off so you don't run the battery down. I once drove seventy five miles to pick up a car because the woman didn't know that her "ice-less" cooler would use up the battery!