There is no question about it, road trips are awesome. It's time to go on a self-drive vacation. You've mapped your route, booked your hotel and made a list of things to do before you go. Flashark reminds you to also include car maintenance as part of your summer road trip preparation. Use this car maintenance checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for a summer road trip.
1. Check tires and tire pressure
Check all four tires, and the spare if you have one. Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Inspect the tire tread by inserting a quarter upside down into the groove.
Inspect the tire pressure when the car is idle and the tires are cool. As needed, inflate the tires to the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure.
2. Check the brake system
If you hear grinding noises or feel vibrations when you apply the brakes, take your car to an auto repair store for a brake inspection. A service professional will check the brake system for fluid leaks, as well as the brake pads, rotors, shoes and drums. Get them fixed as early as possible for safety.
3. Top off or change engine oil and other fluids
Check that the engine oil, coolant and brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid are at the correct levels for safe operation of the vehicle, you’ll need to use the viscosity and the quality level of oil recommended in your owner’s manual.
To add oil, turn your vehicle off and wait for the engine to cool. Remove the oil filler cap, and slowly pour in a bit at a time. Overfilling can cause problems for your engine, so start by adding small amounts at a time and checking the oil level frequently while filling.
4. Inspect Your Hoses & Belts
A belt or hose failure can cause an overheated engine, loss of power steering, and loss of the electrical charging system. Overheating can occur anytime, but usually happens in the summer.
Reinforced rubber drive belts power accessories such as engine water pumps and alternators and air conditioning compressors, so you should inspect and replace any cracked, glazed or worn drive belts.
Inspect and replace radiator hoses that are worn, brittle, bulging or too flexible. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.
5. Prepare emergency kit supplies
Flashark recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.
6. Keep the AC running cool
It’s important to have a working cooling and air conditioning system, especially during summer. Be sure to check your cooling system is sufficiently topped up with the accurate amount of coolant and water and any air vents are clear from grime, dirt and debris as blockages in the air flow of your vehicle could cause your car to overheat.
With a few precautionary measures, summer Summer road trips can be a pleasurable and trouble-free experience.