From a long weekend at the beach to a complete family vacation at a favorite theme park, summer is the perfect time to have some fun and relax. Unfortunately, flying to your destination may not be financially feasible or truly necessary, so you may be part of the large percentage of people driving to their summer vacation spots. Considering you may be part of the 65 percent of people likely to take a road trip this summer, ensuring your car is ready for the long hours on the road is smart. Of course, you may already change the oil and rotate tires before the tip, but other tasks are also important. Using this guide, your car will be ready for a safe and efficient road trip this summer.
Your tires will take a large brunt of the abuse on the road trip, since they will be making direct contact with the hot concrete and damaging road debris. Due to this, making sure your tires are in great condition before leaving is imperative. Use the following tips to check the quality of your tires before your summer road trip:
- Air Pressure – Tires that lack sufficient air pressure will not only increase your risk of a flat but also decrease your car's ability to handle the road at higher speeds. In addition, tires that are underinflated by only 10 PSI can decrease your fuel economy by 3.3 percent. Check the owner's manual to determine the recommended air pressure for your specific car and tires. Inflate or deflate to the recommended air pressure before leaving on your road trip.
- Tread – Poor tire tread also decreases your car's ability to grip the road. This can increase your risk of flats and accidents, so check the quality of your tire tread before embarking on your vacation. Use the Penny Method for an efficient, effective test of your tread. Place a penny with Lincoln's head down in between a few areas of your tire tread. If a portion of Lincoln's head is covered, you have sufficient tread on your tires.
The ability to see through your windshield is also an important element to consider before your road trip this summer. Dirt and debris from the road will accumulate on your windshield, which will be easy to remove. However, if you drive through heavy rain or hailstorms, you may struggle seeing through the windshield.
Be sure to fill up your windshield wiper fluid before leaving on your road trip. Depending on the length of your trip, placing an extra bottle of windshield washer fluid in your car's truck or cargo area can be beneficial if you need to refill.
Also, consider replacing your wiper blades. If you notice cracking, warping, or discoloration on the wiper blade arms, replace immediately. If they are squeaking or leaving behind streaks without properly removing water or residue from the windshield, you will need to replace your wiper blades.
If you scheduled a routine oil change right before your trip, technicians may check your battery life. However, completing a quick check on your own is beneficial.
Inspect the cables and battery terminals for signs of corrosion. If you see residue or heavy buildup around the terminals, disconnect the battery before cleaning the debris with a wire brush. Make sure to reconnect the terminals after cleaning.
To ensure your car's entire charging system is in proper working condition, consider checking the battery, alternator, voltage regulator, and all connecting cables every year if your battery is at least two years old and you live in a warm climate. If you live in a colder climate, check the charging system each year if your battery is more than 4 years old.
Maintaining your car is important for everyday driving, but it is imperative before heading out on the road this summer. While oil changes are necessary, these tips are also essential parts of preparing your car for your summer road trip. If you notice signs of wear on your tires, windshield wipers or battery, you may want to visit an auto parts shop so you can get new parts before your road trip.