Preparation is the best protection
There's no way sure-fire way to prevent roadside breakdowns but you can avoid many problems before leaving home.
"The first thing you need to do is get a basic check, a 52-point inspection, said Lisa McClease-Kelly, owner of Kelly's Automotive in Grants Pass and Medford. "We see a ton of tow-ins during the holidays, people from Portland or San Francisco who didn't do a trip check.
"Just a basic trip check would save them a lot of hassle."
Kelly said drivers should know the basic function of their vehicle and be attentive while driving. Often problems occur when a driver simply ignores a noise.
"If you are hearing a noise, don't keep driving," Kelly said. "We've seen many people blow up their engines because they just keep pushing their vehicle further down the highway."
Kelly regularly offers a free car care clinic for women about automotive-related decisions. If you are interested in attending, call 541-830-4005.
Preparing your vehicle is critical before traveling in mountainous areas or in hazardous weather conditions. Before leaving, tell a family member or friend of your planned route and when you anticipate arriving. Keep them updated on any major route or arrival changes.
Winter preparation tips
- Ensure your vehicle's heater and defroster work properly.
- Test all lights. Carry spare light bulbs.
- Use antifreeze that works to -25°F; check and fill all fluids and make sure hoses aren't loose or brittle.
- Keep wipers clean and in good condition; fill the windshield washer tank.
- Make certain your battery is fully charged (check battery age and make sure cables are not loose or corroded).
- Ensure your tires are in good condition and properly inflated for best traction (including your spare).
- Carry chains or use traction tires
- Keep an automotive safety kit in your vehicle.