What will the summer of 2020 be remembered for? Recovering from a pandemic will be high on the list. Roadtripping is also going to be one of the most popular activities for families.
Forty-six million Americans say they will jump in the car and visit someplace on their bucket lists during the summer. If the coronavirus has canceled your big traveling plans, and you’re looking to stay a little closer to home, roadtripping just makes sense.
Right now, a lot of us are looking for a little escape. After being locked up at home with no place to go, even if you love your home, it’s looking a little closed-in right about now. The open road, the wide open skies, and new-to-you territory sound good right now.
But in order to make it there safely, it’s important to ensure what you’re driving gets you there without trouble.
Has your car been sitting in the garage, with only trips to the grocery store keeping it running?
Has your pickup been parked, with no place to go?
Are you sure they’ll get you where you’re going, especially if you’ll be driving into the middle of nowhere, without a service station in sight?
Car trouble is bad anytime it happens. But when your car doesn’t start in the office parking lot, it’s a minor inconvenience. If your car dies on the open road, it can be downright dangerous.
Before you leave home, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your car is the last thing you’ll have to think about as you’re having fun with the family.
How do I know if my car will make a long trip?
If you have a brand new car, you might not think twice before hitting the open road. But what if your car is three years old? Or five?
In most cases, if your car has been operating well, you’ve provided it with routine maintenance, you attend to issues as they occur, and it runs well for you as you carry out your daily tasks, it should run for you on a road trip as well. If it hasn’t given you trouble as you drive around your neighborhood, there’s no reason to think it will act up on your trip.
Being aware is the most important part of car maintenance. Watch for anything new that arises with your vehicle.
- Are there any fluid leaks?
- Do you hear any new noises?
- Does a light shine on your dashboard readings?
- Does your car act similarly to how it always has?
If you haven’t noticed anything new, chances are it’s in good shape to make your road trip.
How do I prepare my car for a long trip?
Are you wondering if your car is in good enough shape to go on a road trip? Whether your trip is a few hundred miles, or you’ll be adding several thousand as you venture far from home, being stuck without a car isn’t a part of your plans.
Even if you take care of your vehicle regularly, if you haven’t had it checked in a few months, doing so right before your trip can give you added peace of mind. Scheduling a car maintenance appointment will allow one of our mechanics to check the important things, ensure everything is in good working condition, and enable you to head out without having to worry about your car.
Here’s what we’ll do.
Fluids are the lifeblood of any vehicle. It’s not just an occasional oil change that keeps your car running well. But regular oil changes are an integral part of keeping your car moving. Oil changes are usually done based on mileage. Will you hit that point during your trip? Then it’s a good idea to have your car serviced before you leave, to ensure it operates well throughout your trip.
Oil keeps many components operating well, such as the pistons, crankshaft, and camshaft. Mechanics will tell you to change your oil somewhere around every 5,000 miles. Manufacturers may go as high as 10,000 miles, depending on your make and model. Check with your owner’s manual, and talk with one of our mechanics to get on a schedule that works best for your needs.
Other fluids you should check include:
Radiator fluid – this is also known as coolant or antifreeze. This helps pull heat from the engine and dissipate it through the radiator. A mechanic can ensure a proper amount of fluid is in the system, and flushing it every 40,000 to 50,000 miles will keep it working its best.
Brake fluid – brake fluid keeps the brake lines working well. When you push on the brake pedal, brake fluid flows through the brake lines, enabling the brake pads to clamp on the rotors, and slow and stop your car. Flushing the system every 25,000 miles or so will ensure your brakes work as designed.
Power steering fluid – this fluid ensures your steering is responsive to your movements at any speed. If you notice a change in the way your car steers, and it takes more movement to go the direction you choose, it’s time to change out the power steering fluid. Many manufacturers recommend every 50,000 miles or so regardless.
Windshield washer fluid – long trips in the summer mean plenty of bugs and dust accumulating on the exterior of your car. Topping off the windshield washer fluid will allow you to keep your windshield clean no matter how many miles you drive.
As you would expect, your tires are essential for safety. Know how many miles of wear they have, bring your car in for inspection to ensure you’ll stay safe throughout your journey. This can alert you to potential problems, such as uneven wear marks, or faulty tread.
If you don’t have a sensor to alert you with pressure problems, be sure to check tire pressure every 1,000 miles or so. Even if your tire pressure is correct, it’s a good idea to rotate your tires every 8,000 to 10,000 miles or so to help them wear better and last longer. Tires should also be replaced every 25,000 to 50,000 miles. Not sure how much tread you have left? Do the quarter test. Insert a quarter into the tread. If it doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to think about replacing your tires.
What other car maintenance items do you need before a road trip?
Cars have numerous components that need to be checked and observed over the years. The better you know your car, the more you’ll be aware when it’s time for replacement.
Other components that may need servicing or replacement include:
Brake pads – they provide friction needed to slow and stop your vehicle. Depending on the brake pad, you can expect anywhere from 25,000 to 70,000 miles before replacement. Keep in mind that brake pads may not always wear evenly from side to side. Be sure to have all brakes looked at and tested before heading out on the open road.
Air filters – especially in summer, you’ll be subjected to dust, dirt, and bug entering the engine and interior, clogging the filters. This can impact your drive as well as affect engine performance. New air filters for both your engine and interior cabin every 10,000 to 15,000 miles will give you a better ride.
Bulbs – when was the last time you checked your headlights? How about your brake lights? Make sure all of your lights are working properly to help keep you safe on the open road.
Belts and hoses – over time, belts and hoses can wear down, leak and crack. That can allow fluid to leak, and increase the potential of being stranded. Just a quick check can ensure your car is in its best condition for a safe trip, no matter where the road takes you.