7 Ways to Prep Your Vehicle for Summer Travel
How to Prepare Your Car for Summer
By Steve Servold | First Credit Union Sales Specialist
Auto House Tempe
Summer is the season for road trips and fun-filled explorations of new places, visits to family, friends, or favorite spots. If you want to make sure your summer road trip goes off without a hitch, check out our seven tips on how to prepare your car for summer travel. We suggest performing these simple maintenance checks at least 2-3 weeks before your trip so you’re not in a last-minute rush to the mechanic.
Keeping You Safe
- Check tires and tire pressure. Even if you don’t drive very far in hot weather, low tire pressure can cause problems. Check your tire pressure before every trip, especially if you’re going somewhere remote. Don’t forget to check the spare tire, too. It only takes a few minutes and could save you from serious trouble down the road.
- Test the brakes and lights. Make certain your headlights, tail lights, and safety lights are all working properly. Have you noticed any abnormal sounds when braking? Do the brakes feel tight or loose? Check the wear on your brake pads, rotors and drums. If you see excessive wear or cracks, that is the sign they’ll need to be replaced. Make sure that your brake fluid level is correct and that there’s no leakage from your brakes or calipers. Since you rely on brakes to keep you and your family safe, leave this one to the professionals.
- Secure and test the battery. Check your battery terminals for corrosion and make sure they’re tight and free of rust or dirt buildup (which could cause corrosion). If you don’t know how old your battery is or when it was last replaced, take it to a mechanic or auto shop for testing. A dead battery in the middle of nowhere can ruin any trip in a hurry, so make sure yours is charged up before hitting the road.
- Top off engine oil and other fluids. Many newer vehicles have “time to next oil change” displayed on the instrument panel. If your vehicle has an oil dipstick, check the oil level . If it’s low, add more until it reaches the “full” mark on the stick (or until it looks about half full). This will ensure that there’s enough oil circulating inside your engine so that it doesn’t overheat when you’re driving down the road in hot weather conditions. Top off other fluids including coolant (if needed).
- Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner. Going on a road trip means there will be bugs. There could also be dust, rain, or any number of weather conditions to contend with along the way. The Arizona heat is tough on wiper blades and other components, so they need to be replaced at least once a year.
- Check belts and hoses. The belts that run the cooling system should be inspected for cracks or fraying. Also check the hoses for any signs of wear or leaks. If you see any issues, have them replaced immediately before they cause damage to other parts of your engine. If a belt breaks while you’re driving, this could cause serious damage to your engine — or even make it stop working altogether. The same goes for hoses — they protect fluids from getting mixed together in your car’s engine. Without them, it would be impossible for coolant, oil and other liquids to move through different parts of your engine at the right times during a drive.
- Keep the AC running cool. If you don’t want to be stuck in sweltering heat while on the road, check that your car’s AC works well before leaving home, and be sure to check all the vents. Dirt and debris can block ventilation or prevent proper airflow into the evaporator core, which causes inefficient cooling and increased wear on engine components. Remove any leaves before they fall into the condenser coil. If you can’t remove them by hand, try compressed air.
No matter what time of year, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing these things before every trip, so you can hit the road with confidence. You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road or at a gas station waiting for repairs!
Trust a Certified Mechanic
It’s always recommended to have a certified mechanic check things out as today’s newer models are much more intricate and computerized – so it’s best to be handled by one who knows. Have your car serviced by an ASE Certified technician at one of our convenient Auto House Repairs & Maintenance locations. We’ll make sure you’re summer road trip ready!