Ah. Summer road trips. Who doesn’t fondly remember all of those summer road trips growing up? Who isn’t looking forward to more of these days, now more than ever. It’s so worth it cramming everyone in the car for a trip to the beach or the lake just to get away from all the craziness.
Actually, getting away by car might be your only way to travel this year. And the last thing you need is to have car trouble delaying you from your vacation. Here are some tips on getting your car ready before you hit the road this summer.
Pre-Travel Car Checklist
The tips we’re about to give you can go a long way toward giving you peace of mind when traveling with your family. They will also increase the chances of making memories about who won the I spy with my little eye game rather than how long it took for the tow truck to come and pick up your car.
Some of these can easily be checked by yourself, but others require a licensed technician from an auto body shop. However, it is smart to know what they are and specifically ask your technician to check them so you know your car is ready for the road.
Things You Can DIY
#1 Check Your Owner’s Manual For The Next Maintenance Check
Your owner’s manual has a list of scheduled maintenance by age of the car or mileage. If you don’t have the manual, you can look it up online. If your car needs any of those services or will need it after a 2,000-mile trip, you need to take care of them before you get on the road.
#2 Check Tire Pressure
You need to check the pressure of every tire. You will find what the correct tire pressure should be on a sticker on the driver’s side door. If you don’t have proper pressure, your tires will:
- Stress the engine
- Add unnecessary tear and wear on the suspension and brakes
- Cause uneven tire wear
- Make your tires sensitive to tire blowouts
- Use more fuel
#3 Change Air Filters
You need to change your air and cabin filters if they haven’t been replaced in a while. An air filter is very much like your lungs. Imagine you’re trying to breathe with your hand over your face, your breathing gets restricted. A restricted air filter can increment your fuel cost and consumption by 10%, stressing other components.
#4 Replace Wiper Blades and Refill Washer Fluid
If you haven’t replaced your wiper blades in a while, you should buy a new set. You can find them at any hardware store, or even Walmart. It is very easy to change. Just follow the instructions on the package. While you’re at the store, you should also pick up a gallon of washer fluid for your windshield and top off the tank. You will be happy you did as soon as a giant bug splats in your windshield on the road.
#5 Check Your Lights
Your turn signals, brake lights, fog lights, taillights, and headlights should all be working. If any of them are burned out, you can change them yourself. Bulbs are not expensive. You can also ask your trusted mechanic to do it for you.
If you notice that your lights are working but they are cloudy or yellow, it not need more than a car wash. But sometimes they are just old and they might need replacing as well.
Things A Mechanic Should Do
#1 Determine Why A Dashboard Light Is On
If any of your engine lights are on such as the brake, battery, airbag or service engine soon, they have to be looked at by a mechanic. This can’t wait until right before your road trip. Anytime one of these lights turns on, your car is telling you that it needs fixing. Get it checked by a mechanic as soon as you notice they are on. The longer you wait to fix them, the more expensive the issue will be.
#2 Check the Heater, Radiator, And Bypass Hoses
Hoses can cause coolant leaks and overheating. If these hoses have any lumps or cracks, you should have a mechanic replace them. A small hose like this can cause up to $7,000 worth of damage.
#3 Check The Belts
Belts run a lot of accessories in your car, including the A/C, water pump, charging system, and power steering. If a belt is broken, worn, or dry, replace it. This is one of the things that can cause a car to come into a auto body shop on a tow truck. If a belt breaks it can be fatal for your car’s engine.
#4 Check The Brakes
Brakes are crucial for a road trip. They have to be in top shape, especially when you’re going at 75mph on the highway and the person right in front of you stops suddenly.
#5 Check Your Car’s Suspension
Unless you are feeling like being on a roller coaster for the entire road trip this summer, check your suspension. Shocks and struts can influence the handling and control of your car by keeping the tires on the road and absorbing the impact. If your car is already rebounding or dipping, a long road trip is going to make it way worse, especially if one of your passengers suffers from car sickness.
#6 Change Oil and Top Off Fluids
You can probably do this yourself, but an auto body shop will probably charge you the same amount of money you would spend buying the products yourself. Plus, they get to do the dirty work, not you.
#7 Check the A/C
Nothing could be more painful than driving 500 miles in the middle of the summer with no A/C. Make sure yours works properly. Everybody in the car will thank you.