Garage Guru - What's Going On With My Car? Brought to you by Christian Brothers Automotive, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel
New Tampa and Wesley Chapel Brought to you by Christian Brothers Automotive (author)
Dear Garage Guru,
“My husband and I are planning a history road trip this summer with our kids up the Eastern seaboard to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jefferson’s home at Monticello, and DC and all the museums and sights the capital has. We have a 2014 Chrysler minivan that we keep “pretty good” care of. What should we do to make sure we make it roundtrip with no troubles?”
Dear Summer Road Trip!
I have wonderful memories as a kid going cross country from California to visit family in Georgia in Mom and Dad’s ’49 Buick Roadmaster with the swamp cooler hanging on the window. I learned the best ways to bug my sisters on these trips, and learned my Dad meant business when he leaned over the seat and said “Don’t make me stop this car!” Anyone else remember the Burma Shave signs on Route 66?
A Road Trip can be a wonderful family bonding time to see our great country and create lifetime memories. Or, you could find yourself in your own version of “Vacation”, the movie, on your way to Wally World. Breaking down 1,000 miles away from home, on an unfamiliar highway, with 3 hungry kids who have watched “Despicable Me” 4 times and who will only talk in Minion and demand bananas for lunch can wear on you. And, finding yourself at the mercy of whatever garage is within affordable towing distance is not a fun adventure especially when faced with changing hotel reservations and hoping to find a bug-free motel while waiting for the part to ship in from Los Angeles. Let’s talk about what you can do to tilt your odds towards the memorable family bonding trip and away from Wally World.
First, go to your trusted garage for a Road Trip Inspection. Customer friendly garages will do inspections for free. Get that inspection at least 2 weeks before your trip so you have time for any needed maintenance or repairs and to drive your car for a while to make sure everything else is ok. Please don’t plan to leave the day after a major repair. You wouldn’t run a marathon the day after heart surgery.
Next, are you a member of a Road Service Protection Program such as AAA or one your insurance company may have? You can get free or discounted towing, assistance changing a flat tire, jump starting dead batteries, gas to get you to the next station, and even bail money if you can believe that. Our advice – don’t leave home without a road service protection plan.
Last, if your car has over 120,000 miles, as strange as it may sound, consider renting a car for your Road Trip. If the mileage is getting up there, many parts are approaching their limit even though it’s driving fine. Daily driving is usually short trips which are easy on your car’s aging parts. Road trips are endurance tests that can turn slight weaknesses into smoking failures. Rule of thumb - 4 hours or more of continuous highway driving will bring out weaknesses in cars that otherwise have been very dependable. “Rotating parts” – like alternators and power steering pumps - are relentlessly spinning on road trips for long periods at high temperatures.
A Road Trip Inspection can’t guarantee a problem free trip, but can help you decide if there are parts that need to be replaced or are still good enough to risk the long trip, or if you should be searching Priceline for a rental car.
We are eager to hear about your car concerns. Is your car acting up or have you wondered about how some part of your car works?
Drop us a note at
and we will offer our honest opinion.
Christian Brothers Automotive, where we care for your family by caring for your family car.