Get Your Vehicle Ready for the Road

June 24, 2013

Is your vehicle ready for the road? With literally miles ahead between you and your vacation destination, it would be beneficial for your vehicle (and passengers) to have gotten your car checked before going on a road trip for the summer.
Not only can the summer heat directly affect different areas of your vehicle—from both exterior to interior—but improper car maintenance, or not maintenance at all, for the past couple of months can seriously wear down your vehicle and can ultimately stall your summer retreat. It’s bad enough to endure endless, “Are we there yet? Bobby’s touching me! I have to go to the bathroom!,” without having to suffer some sort of automotive catastrophe. Before hitting the road, give your vehicle a proper check-up, many of which you can actually do yourself.
A blown out tire during a road trip is a common misfire—worn tires are more prone to a blowout especially during hot temperatures. Heat raises tire pressure, which is why manufacturers recommend checking the inflation of a tire before driving. For just a few dollars you can purchase a tire air pressure gauge—available at most auto parts stores—which can accurately tell you your tires PSI (pounds per square inch). By checking your owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s side door, you can find out what PSI is right for your tires. Inflating and maintaining proper tire pressure ensures safer, more comfortable driving and even better fuel efficiency.
Heavy driving—like when on a road trip—can cause your engine to overheat. Prepare for hot days and long trips by giving your vehicle a thorough system check. A good place to start is an oil check. If the oil is a dark color or there is a lot of dirt and grime present, it’s time for an oil change and even probably a filter replacement. Many technicians recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles, those some user manuals extend that to 7,500 miles.
One area that you should let your local mechanic inspect is the air conditioning. In extreme heat, drivers tend to run the AC continuously, often at full blast, which puts extra strain on the cooling system. Air conditioning units should be serviced every three years or as needed and the most common cause of a malfunctioning AC is a low level of refrigerant. Have a professional evaluate the refrigerant levels and check for leaks.
Cleaning your vehicle is the best way to properly maintain your vehicle. Consider cleaning your vehicle both before and after your road trip. Give your car a thorough cleaning, inside and out, including the underside of your car where accumulated grime and dirt can make your engine and transmission unnecessarily hot. Cleaning the inside of your car will give you a more comfortable ride and potentially lighten your load by eliminating unnecessary items.
Get comfortable and enjoy the journey to your trip from the safety of your car, instead of the side of the road.