The long road home: In preparation for holiday vacations, advice for keeping your car at its best

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The long road home: In preparation for holiday vacations, advice for keeping your car at its best

Junior Zack Larsen checks under the hood of his car in preparation for his trip back home to Maryland. Photo: Jacob Larsen

Most students are already counting down the days until Thanksgiving break, and those who are keeping track know that a mere 11 days remain.

When Thanksgiving break finally arrives, some students will board a plane and take off for home while others will stay in Greenville for the holiday. But many students will load their cars and embark on long road trips, bound for home sweet home.

So practically speaking, what can students do to prepare for these road trips?

Mr. Rolly Pflug, who manages BJU’s Car Care Clinic, emphasized the importance of pre-trip inspections. “Don’t start on your trip [if you have] a known vehicle problem. It will not get better on your trip home,” Mr. Pflug said.

At the minimum, he encourages students to execute a visual inspection of their cars. According to Mr. Pflug, students should check to see that all lights and windshield wipers operate properly and listen for odd noises when the car is running. Also, test the brakes and the steering wheel for proper control.

Students can easily check tire pressure and fluids such as the oil, coolant and transmission fluid; however, not all students possess the car know-how to understand what they are looking at under a car hood. So Mr. Pflug recommends that students have their cars inspected by a mechanic in order to ensure that their car is ready for a long-distance drive. A mechanic will check the tires, fluids and belts, and he can also fix a problem if he were to find one.

Mr. Pflug said students can call ext. 2925 to schedule a pre-trip inspection at the Car Care Clinic across the road from BJA Elementary School. Rates will vary, depending on the car and the extent of any problem.

Junior biology major Chacho Valadez experienced car trouble on his way to BJU from his home in Wisconsin in August 2011. According to Valadez, he and 2012 BJU graduate Omar Maldonado were driving in Kentucky when they heard a popping noise. They ignored the noise, but about 20 minutes later, a tire on Maldonado’s Jeep Liberty exploded.

“I freaked out and pulled over to the side of the highway,” Valadez said. “We had no idea what to do.”

A tow truck came and towed the Jeep to a repair shop. After nearly two hours, the two were back on the road with a new tire.

In January 2011, senior music education major Cherith Hamilton and her brother Ethan decided to leave their home in Iowa early to drive to BJU in order to avoid a forecasted snowstorm.

While driving in Kentucky, they heard an odd noise coming from their van that was loaded with all their luggage and instruments.

According to Hamilton, once they had pulled the van over to the side of the highway, it died.

While they tried to figure out a solution to their problem, a police car pulled up behind their car, and the officer took them to a nearby gas station.

At the gas station, they were able to call a mechanic who towed their van to his shop. The mechanic’s daughter-in-law even helped the Hamiltons find a rental car to complete the rest of their trip to school.

If anything does go wrong during the course of a trip, Mr. Pflug advises students to find a car repair shop at the nearest exit.

So whether you’ll be driving four hours or 14 hours, check to see that your car will be able to transport you safely home for a break with family, holiday traditions and lots of home-cooked food.

Samantha Loucks
Samantha Loucks
Editor-in-chief. Samantha Loucks is a senior from Nappanee, Ind. and is studying journalism and mass communication at Bob Jones University.