What’s a Bigger American Tradition?
Although the summer season begins June 21st, Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start to road trip season. Before you load up Aunt Edna and hit the highway, you should make sure your vehicle is up to the task. We’ve put together some tips that will help make sure you have a safe, cool and comfortable summer road trip — stopping by Walley World to see if it’s actually open is up to you.
Here is our list of summer road trip preparation:
1. Check Air Pressure
It is important to check the air pressure in your tires. It’s critical to have properly inflated tires. Proper inflation assures the best possible contact between the tires and the road. An improperly inflated tire can overheat, potentially leading to a blowout on the highway.
Check your owner’s manual or the driver side door jamb to find the correct tire pressures. You’ll want to check the pressure when the tires are cold, so the morning is usually the best time. Properly inflated tires will also last longer, improve gas mileage and also provide a safer driving experience — especially in severe weather.
2. Check the AC System
We live in coastal Georgia. It is hot and humid. You’re going to be using the air-conditioner every time you get in your vehicle in the summer months and chances are, you already have been using the AC. How well has it been working so far? Have you heard any odd noises or noticed any strange smells? If so, you may want to have your mechanic inspect it. The system may need cleaning, have a leak or need to be recharged.
3. Inspect the Wiper Fluid and Wiper Blades
Visibility is always important. Check the wiper fluid reservoir and top it off if necessary. We recommend a windshield fluid solution that helps clear the glass of bugs.
Take a good look at the wiper blades, too. In most cases, it is often recommended to replace these in the winter, since the heat can dry out the rubber. But given that daily afternoon summer storms are common here in the South, give your blades a close inspection. Run the wipers with fresh washer fluid and see whether or not they leave streaks on the windshield.
4. Perform an Under-the-Hood Inspection
Nowadays, it is becoming common to pay little mind to what is going on under your vehicle’s hood. Before a road trip is a good time to give the engine compartment a quick inspection. Make sure the engine is cold before doing so. Here are a few items to check:
Battery:Check for corrosion on the battery terminals. The corrosion can be cleaned off with baking soda and a toothbrush. Just be sure to check the battery again a few weeks later, to see if the corrosion has come back. This could be a sign of a more serious issue.
Oil: If your maintenance light is on and you’ve been putting off the oil change due to the cold weather, now’s the time to take it for service. In the meantime, check the oil level. If the oil is low, top it off now and keep an eye on it. Make sure you check your owner’s manual to see what type of oil your car needs.
Coolant: Take a look at the coolant in the reservoir, checking both the level and its condition. It should be clear, not cloudy. If you need to top it off, make sure you check the cap or your owner’s manual for the type you need and use the pre-diluted mixtures for convenience.
If you made it this far, you should also check the brake fluid, steering fluid, and, if you have an automatic transmission, the transmission fluid.
For the transmission fluid, consult your owners manual on how, or if (some cars boast so-called “lifetime” fluid) you need to check your fluid level. The fluid should be at the level recommended by the manufacturer and a handsome, bright shade of red.
Power steering fluid is important and often overlooked. That strange constant whirring sound you often hear on cars turning is a sign of power steering problems. If the fluid is low, fill to the maximum. If it’s dark brown have the power steering system flushed and refilled.
Brake fluid is kept in a translucent reservoir near the base of your car’s windshield. It should be clear and at or close to the reservoir’s “full” mark. If it’s low, fill to that level. If it’s dark and grimy, it should be flushed and replaced by an experienced mechanic
5. Wash and Wax the Car
You know that we could not do a road trip preparation post without mentioning caring for your vehicle’s exterior. The weather is heating up and sun is getting more intense, so now is the last best time to give your vehicle a good detailing. Another one of our favorite American traditions is the pre-road trip car wash. You can take the shortcut and take your car to the car wash to get a detail, or follow our recommendations on how to do it yourself.
A well maintained vehicle is essential for the perfect road trip. Make sure you and your family enjoy summer road trips by taking care of your vehicle. Now hit the road!