Check the gas capYour car's humble gas cap is a critical component of your car's emission control system, and if it isn't airtight it will trigger "check engine" or "emissions service" lights on your dashboard, says Dahl. Also, check the gasket around the gas cap every time you fill up to ensure that it has no cracks or other damage. If you notice anything amiss, replace it.
Lighting and visibilityCheck your headlights to make sure they all work and that there are no hidden wiring problems, says Woodson. Check to make sure that there is no corrosion on the terminals of the car's battery, too: Many electrical-system issues can be avoided simply by keeping the battery terminals and connections clean and tight.
Finally, clean your windows, replace worn wipers with a fresh set, and check to make sure that the every washer-fluid reservoir in the car is full.
Use a pro for long trips"Should you be getting ready to go on a longer summertime road trip, have your vehicle inspected by a competent mechanic," says Dahl. "You really want to make sure your brakes are within specifications and functioning properly. Have all fluids checked and have them look for any leaks, especially in the car cooling system. Also, have a comprehensive check of the vehicle's fluids, hoses and belts."
"Everything, in terms of proper vehicle maintenance, really goes back to your car manufacturer's recommendations, and those will be found in your car's owner manual," says Adam Simms, general manager of Toyota Sunnyvale in Sunnyvale, Calif. "That information is often vehicle-specific and it tells you, in clear black-and-white, what should be checked, inspected and replaced, and when all that has to be done."
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