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lou’s garage

I have a question I thought lots of folks might have: We have a 2006 Mazda MPV in good condition and with very low mileage that we take on long summer trips through some isolated parts of Canada. I'm starting to worry that as it ages, it might suffer a breakdown that leaves us stranded on the highway. Aside from the obvious (tires, battery, fluids), what are the key mechanical things that should be serviced or checked to help us avoid having the van towed to the next town?

– John, Thunder Bay

Proactive preventive maintenance can reduce the risk, but travelling with a 12-year-old vehicle in remote areas can provide for some unexpected adventures. This doesn't mean that your MPV needs to be replaced, but be aware that situations with zero predictability may occur. A roadside assistance package is essential.

Accordingly, take your vehicle in to your service provider, explaining your travel plans.

In addition to their regular maintenance package have them thoroughly examine steel brake lines for corrosion and rubber flex lines for age cracking. The radiator, water pump and coolant hoses should be visually inspected. Ask for your coolant system to be pressure-tested, looking for leaks that are about to happen.

Replace all belts and hoses that look even slightly questionable.

Any warning lights on the dashboard should be dealt with before your departure.

Suspension components, struts/coil springs and steering items need to be thoroughly inspected and replaced if unsatisfactory road/visual test results are discovered. The battery/starting and charging system also needs a compete examination. Dead batteries are a common, yet easily avoidable, offender.

Happy travels!

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject line.

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