A DIY car maintenance program can prevent auto breakdowns during vacation, including diagrams of what to check under the hood: battery, wipers, brakes, shocks, tires, lights and exhaust.
The biggest favor you can do your vehicle before a long trip is to change its oil and filter.
[A] UNDER THE HOOD: Your battery will succumb unless you keep it clean and filled. Air, fuel and oil filters need attention, too. Check the antifreeze level and clamps, hoses and water pump bearings, and don't forget to inspect the alternator and accessory belts for signs of wear. modern ignition systems require minimal maintenance, but examine spark plugs and distributor parts. [B] WIPERS: Replace the blades if they're worn, and fill the reservoir. [C] BRAKES: Look for leaks or kinks in the brake lines; scraping or clinking noises should be checked. [D] SHOCKS: Worn shock absorbers cause your car to wallow and bounce. Look for a service center sale. [E] TIRES: Tread wear can tell a story if you know what to look for. If the rubber is in good shape, inflate the tires to the recommended pressure. [F] LIGHTS: It only takes a few moments to check headlights, taillights, etc. [G] EXHAUST: Get under the car and look for corrosion or looseness in the pipe, muffler or clamp components.
TRANSMISSION FLUID: If your car's equipped with automatic drive, refer to the owner's manual, then check the fluid level. Avoid overfilling or underfilling. DRIVE TRAIN: Worn universal or constant-velocity joints can pose a hazard. Check for excessive play in the drive shaft. More than a fraction of an inch is too much.