Road Tripping This Summer? Do These Five Things First.
Right now might seem like the perfect time for a road trip. The weather just wants you to pack up, head out, and explore where the highway takes you.
But there is one thing you should be completely prepared for: a breakdown. Nothing is worse than being stuck in a lonely highway for hours. That’s why you should go to a trustworthy auto repair shop beforehand and get the following things checked up.
All cars depend on six essential fluids to properly work. Each of them helps make a specific part of the car actually work rather fall apart. When you think about it, your car is basically a humongous collection of metal parts grinding against each other towards a common end: locomotion. Something’s got to keep it all running properly.
Of these fluids, oil is definitely the most important one to keep on top of. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Which is why you typically need to get it changed every three to five thousand miles. And be sure to keep in mind how far you plan to travel when determining your oil life, as it would be a shame to interrupt your summer road trip with a trip to the auto shop.
Another essential one to check is the radiator fluid, which helps cool the engine and prevent overheating. Check on this every 50,000 miles. The other fluids you want to keep on top of are windshield washer (for those summer bugs), power steering, transmission, and brake fluid.
If you’re not sure about anything, ask your auto shop about the important details.
You don’t run a marathon on worn out sneakers, so why would you hit the road with dying tires? Failure to keep your tires fresh can result in a blow out. Which can be very dangerous at high speeds and lead to expensive repairs.
There are two main factors that you should check on: the tire pressure and the tread. Most gas stations have air pumps that you can use to check your tire pressure and inflate if necessary. Just be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure, as this will keep you safe on the road and even improve your mileage a bit. For the tread buy a tread-depth gauge, and if it’s reading 4/32 of an inch or less, replace the tires before hitting the road.
Most batteries last about five years. So if your running near the end of your lifespan, it’s a good idea to check in on your car battery. A simple thing you can check is for corrosion on the terminals and that both leads are held tight. You can check out corrosion quickly by the presence of weird chalky stuff on the terminals. If you’ve heard some weird sounds during the startup, that could be a warning sign.
You can have an auto repair shop check up your battery. Depending on whether it’s sealed or not, they’ll be able to at least tell you the current condition of it. For those that are sealed, they’ll check out the output voltage. For the open ones that are maintenance-free, they’ll the electrolytes.
Located under the hood of the car, it can be a bit scary to look for them, but you can still get a basic idea. Depending on the age of your car, you’ll have either one belt or various that run through the accessories and the water pump. No matter the amount, if they’re loose or worn out, it’s time to go to a auto shop and find a new one.
Hoses are somewhat easier to check. You just have to look for leaks of any kind. Most will be found in joining points, so focus your efforts there.
And Don’t Forget a Test Drive
One of the best ways to prep your car for a road trip is to take a mindful highway test drive. You’ve probably been driving the same car for years, and have gradually gotten used to all of its unique sounds. Set aside fifteen minutes to bring your car to highway speeds and just listen. If there are any odd noises or shaking, be sure to get them checked out by a professional.
The worst thing to do before a road trip is nothing. Your car has a ton of moving parts, and they’ve all got to work together for a smooth drive. Take some time to check these five things in your car before hitting the road, and head to your local auto shop to get them in shape if need be.