Thanksgiving holiday travel: Check if your vehicle is ready for the trip

AAA expects more than 5 -million people to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and the vast majority will be on the road. If that's in your plans, now is the time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip.

Eddie Elliott, who teaches car care at Universal Technical Institute, says a lot of people don't do a great job keeping connected with our vehicle's needs. "Everybody jumps in their cars and thinks they're safe to go and it's time to cruise, and that's just not the case," he says.

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Before setting off over the hills and through the woods to your grandmother's house, some preventative care could keep your machine working smoothly. "Everything on a vehicle has a wearable date, ultimately," says Elliott, "We have to catch those before the wear-date is out."

The quickest and easiest check is the oil. While modern vehicles can measure their life, it's important to periodically check the dipstick. There are other important fluids to check, as well, like antifreeze and brake fluid.

Make sure the wipers are fresh enough to keep the windshield clear and the battery strong enough to start the car. Tires need enough tread to keep the vehicle under control and at the right air pressure, including the spare.

"The bad time to figure out that that you've got no air in the spare tire, is when you're on the side of the road and it's tire pressure is the same as the flat's tire pressure," warns Elliott.

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While any of these problems could make for a bad day, in your own community, they could be a disaster stuck on the side of the road, in a strange place waiting for help.

Easy maintenance can be done with the investment of a little time in your driveway, or with an appointment with a mechanic. Doing them days before you leave will help ensure there's time to address any problems.

To help, Elliott says most car-repair garages will help with a free 'trip-check' to identify problems that need attention.