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Holiday Road Trip

Learn how to make sure your holiday road trip is a safe one with these tips.

More in Home Improvement

Car Maintenance

Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

coolant tester
50/50 mix water to coolant
penny
screwdriver
high-quality washer fluid
gasoline

Check the Battery

Nothing ruins a holiday trip like car trouble.

Have battery checked by mechanic. Battery loses 33 percent of power when temperature dips below freezing; 50 percent when below zero.

In colder temperatures, turning over engine takes twice as much current as in warmer conditions.

Before setting out, have mechanic check remaining life of battery.

Have mechanic test starting and charging system.

Tip: The starting system includes the battery, starter motor, solenoid, ignition switch, and maybe a starter relay; the charging system contains an alternator or generator, drive belt, battery, voltage regulator, and wiring.

Use battery charger to maintain charge levels.

Fully charged battery will not freeze until -76 degrees F; fully discharged battery could start to freeze at 32 degrees F.

Check battery cables, posts, and fasteners; cables should be in good shape and be firmly secured to battery.

Check the Cooling System

Use tester to check freezing point of cooling system; should be good to minus 30 or below.

Tip: 50/50 mix of coolant to water has lower freezing point than 100 percent coolant.

Check Tires and Wipers

Check tires and tread. In snow, tires need 6/32 inch of tread; stick penny into tread; if top of Lincoln Memorial is covered, tire has enough tread for snow driving.

Replace windshield wiper blades. Some winter wipers have rubber coverings that prevent ice from collecting on blade; some wipers have built-in heaters.

Keep wiper reservoir filled with good quality fluid rated to sub-zero temperatures. In ice and snow, you can easily use half a gallon or more of fluid in a day.

Keep the Tank Filled

Check heater and defroster.

Examine exhaust system for leaks.

On road, keep gas tank close to full in case you have to run engine for warmth in bad weather or heavy traffic. If you do get stuck in snow, check tailpipe periodically to make sure it isn’t clogged with snow.

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