Once again the temperatures are climbing and it will be time to take a road trip, Route 66 style, with the top down and sunglasses on and a destination in the GPS. But before you pick up the family or your friends and head for the gas station for fuel and munchies there’s a few things you’re going to want to do and have checked before you embark on your summertime adventure.
Don’t do all your maintenance such as oil changes and anti-freeze servicing the day before you leave. Mistakes happen and we’ve seen engines that were seized because the oil filter wasn’t tightened down enough. If that guy had waited even just a day he would have spotted the leak in his driveway and not found that all the oil drained out on the freeway on his way from Seattle. If at all possible, do it a week before you leave so if anything does need to be done, you’re still near home and not out on the open road between cities and in need of a very expensive tow truck ride.
- Fluids. Oil is the life blood of your vehicle. It both lubricates and cleanses the insides of your motor but this is only the first of several fluids you need to check and possibly change. The next important fluid is the antifreeze. It’s purpose in the summer is to cool the engine and keep it from overheating. There are corrosion inhibitors that keep the antifreeze from causing rust and build up of scale that expire over time and begin to become acidic. Once it becomes acidic it will start to cause hoses and gaskets to begin to deteriorate and will also begin to eat through aluminum after a while, like what your heater core and your radiator are made of. It really is an inexpensive service that only needs to be done every 30k miles. The other fluids you need to check before your road trip are transmission (if you have an automatic), brake fluid, power steering fluid and finally, windshield washer fluid.
- Windshield Wiper Operation. Since we last checked the windshield wiper fluid, we should next check the wiper operation. Summertime also means bugs are out and about and plentiful and if you’re cruising on the freeway, you’re going to really want to have the ability to clean the carnage from your field of vision. Next, make sure your wiper blades are not worn. Do not use the wipers when the windshield is dry. The windshield will get scratched, or the rubber blades will get damaged.
- Filters. Your engine’s air filter is what regulates the air that flows into your engine and helps keep out debris and particulate. By making certain that your air filter is flowing properly, you can improve your fuel efficiency, decrease your emissions, and help ensure the life of your engine. Likewise, the cabin air filter (if your vehicle has one) protects the air coming into the cabin for the air conditioning and will catch pollen and other particulate matter.
- Battery. Summer heat can really take its toll on batteries and the last thing you need is to be stuck in a rest stop somewhere this side of Tulsa with a dead battery. A car battery supplies large amounts of electrical current for the starter, engine and other electronic accessories in the vehicle. We can test it for you at no charge as well as your starter and alternator while we’re at it.
- Lights. An easy item to overlook is your lights but it’s a very important to ensure that they are operating properly. It’s best to do a once over once a month. Find a a flat surface like garage door or the wall of a building and check to see that the headlights are working properly and well positioned. Next walk around the car and inspect the turn signals and park lights. Have a friend stand behind the car while you engage the brakes to be certain that your brake lights are functional.
- Tires. Unevenly worn tires can cause unwanted noise and vibrations at best and can be dangerous at worst. Depending on your vehicle alignment, usage, and many other factors, the tread wear patterns on your tires may vary between the front and back tires, or even from one side of the tread to the other.
- Belts. That simple piece of rubber that threads its way across the front or the side of your engine is what runs all the accessories that we’ve come to love so much about our modern cars. How miserable would the summer be without your AC compressor and not to mention the power steering, but that belt also runs the alternator. Visually inspect the belt for cracks or damage of any kind. Replace if damaged or according to your vehicle manufacture’s recommendation.
After you’ve made it through this inspection list, the next important thing to do is create a road trip playlist. If you need help with your inspection, our ASE certified tech is more than willing to give your vehicle a once over. Call us at 208-989-7871 or you can set up an appointment on our website at http://www.all-autorepair.com