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Prepping for the Holiday Road Trip

Your car, and your family, will appreciate a little attention before hitting the road

Thoughts of a holiday road trip can send one’s senses racing in so many ways. Fond memories of previous journeys and giddy anticipation for the one ahead are top of mind. You’re likely already hearing or humming the melodies of classic Christmas carols.

But nothing can spoil the occasion faster than being stuck on the side of the road in a broken-down vehicle. So, before loading your sleigh, make sure it’s roadworthy. With that in mind, we turned to Mark Fulks of Mark’s Automotive in Mount Juliet. Here are some of his tips and advice to ensure your vehicle is up to the task.

First things first: An oil change is the best place to start.

“Oil changes allow us to examine all your vehicle’s systems. We’ll top-off fluids and inspect belts, brakes, and hoses. We can check your battery and engine coolant, and in most cases, things that need immediate attention can be repaired that day. We can also alert you to certain maintenance and service needs you’re likely to encounter by the next oil change. Best of all, you’ll know that your vehicle is ready for the trip.”

Get a grip: Slick tires and winter weather do not mix.

“If you only have a couple months of tread remaining, you should seriously consider a new set of tires. It’s just not worth the risk. Tires need to be at their best during the winter months. It’s also the right time to have your tires rotated and to make sure they’re inflated and aligned properly. And don’t neglect the spare tire. In the event of an emergency, it needs to be ready.”

Tools of the trade: Learn how to use them.

“Before the trip, pull out the jack and learn where it positions on the car in the event you have to change a tire. It’s best to learn in the driveway than on the side of the road. Learn how to use jumper cables, or a portable booster is even better. Just make sure it’s charged before you go. A basic tool set could prove to be invaluable. It should include flat head and Philips head screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, sockets and ratchets and a tire pressure gauge. 

One for the road: Stock up on supplies.

“It’s smart to have an extra quart of oil, a gallon of water or coolant, and reflective flares, just in case. Remember, if your radiator is about to overheat, let it cool off a bit before removing the cap. It’s under pressure so removing it too soon could result in an injury. If you have room, I recommend an air compressor. It’ll plug directly into one of your vehicle’s power outlets. And as long as you’re assembling an emergency kit, it should include some common household items like a flashlight, duct tape, a pocketknife and gloves.”

For additional information, call 615.864.8008 or visit Mark’s Automotive in person at 14185 Lebanon Rd. or online at