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Car maintenance: what to do before you leave on vacation

Last update: August 10, 2016, at 10:50 am

Summer is here, and many families are hitting the road in search of a relaxing and fun-filled vacation. Are you planning to go somewhere?


Remember that vacations are short and precious; mechanical issues shouldn’t be part of your plans. To help you start off on the right foot, we’ve listed a few things to check out to make sure your car is ready to go when you are. 

Have you had a tune-up lately?

You’ve seen it before, the minivan on the side of the road, hood up, engine smoking, kids crying in the back seat. Don’t let that happen to you—have a mechanic do a summary inspection, or do it yourself if you know what to look for.

  • Level and concentration of the coolant

Does your liquid coolant match the manufacturer’s specifications? Is the thermostat working? Overheating can quickly put your vehicle out of commission for your entire holiday!

  • The quality of your motor oil

Since you’ll be covering a lot more kilometers than your usual commute, your motor oil will degrade more quickly than usual.

  • Tires

Check the tread depth and pressure for each tire (and no, kicking them doesn’t count!). The tiniest leak can compromise the integrity of a tire, and can also lead to increased fuel consumption. Here is an interesting article about how to check your car’s tire tread.

  • Brakes

Spending time on major roads always means using your brakes a lot. Remember to check the brake linings and pads.

  • Make sure the 12-volt sockets and other outlets are working

Inside your vehicle, you’ll need to charge your phone, plug in your cooler, or, if you get lost, use your GPS device. Take some time to test the 12-volt sockets and other outlets in the passenger compartment and pack a few spare fuses in case your devices use too much power!

Car maintenance also includes your trailer!

The inside of your tent trailer needs be ship shape so that everything goes swimmingly while you’re camping. But it also needs to be in good mechanical condition to get where you’re going. Along with your car tires, make sure your trailer tires are in good condition and have enough air. A poorly inflated tire can overheat quickly, causing a flat.

What’s more, your vehicle needs a way to transmit electric signals to the trailer. Your old boat trailer that hibernated all winter? Make sure the brakes haven’t seized and the wires weren’t eaten by rodents. Make sure to inspect and check each electrical component before hitting the road.

Want to know more about hauling a trailer, read CAA’s article

The last few details

Is your emergency kit fully equipped? Is your windshield washer fluid reservoir full? You’re ready to hit the road! One last thing: take your patience with you; you’re on vacation after all!


Other topics of interest:

Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and to Certas Direct Insurance Company in Ontario and Alberta. Certain restrictions, exclusions and limitations may apply.

Ajusto is available from Desjardins Insurance. ® Ajusto is a registered trademark of Desjardins General Insurance Inc., used with permission by Certas Direct Insurance Company. The discount does not apply to certain endorsements and additional coverages. It will be automatically applied to the premium at the time of renewal. Ajusto is only available in Ontario and Quebec.

All information is provided for information purposes only, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for it. We recommend using caution and consulting a property and casualty insurance agent for comprehensive, personalized advice.

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