Its that time of year again. School is about to start up, and last minute vacations are close at hand. Before you head out on the open road for a funfilled weekend, make sure your car is in top shape with these maintenance tips.
- Service your battery. When is the last time you changed out your battery? Batteries don’t last forever. If yours is three years old or older, you may want to test it or replace it to avoid unexpected trouble. AAA has reported that they assist on average around 1.6 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer months, and replace around 500,000 of them at roadside. Don’t be one of the statistics.
- Air conditioning check. While we haven’t had exceptionally hot weather here in weeks, out on the road may be a different story. In a short period of time, you can find yourself in intense heat with the sun beating through the windows – and no coolness coming out of your vents. Air conditioning systems typically don’t require routine maintenance, but if your system isn’t working well to begin with, an intense trip may be the ticket for failure. One of our mechanics can perform an AC inspection to check out your system, including compressor, belts, hoses and the temperature and cooling system.
- Tire check. No one anticipates a flat tire. But its even more of a hassle when you’re miles from the nearest exit and you have to pull out luggage to reach the spare. When it comes to checking tires, even newer tires should have a once over before a big trip. Check the pressure of each tire when the tires are cold and the car hasn’t been driven in a while. Make sure the pressure is at the recommended level. Also inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Yes, that small nail can be a problem – have it checked before you head out.
- Are you fully prepared? While preventative measures will help tip the scales in your favor, accidents are called accidents for a reason. There is always opportunity for problems along the way. Make sure you have an emergency roadside kit that is appropriate for the season and the areas you are going to. While you will probably have many mobile phones in the car, make sure you have chargers that work in your vehicle as well. Flashlights, first aid kits, drinking water, snacks and food, booster cables, standard tools such as a wrench, and emergency flares or reflectors should be included in any kit.
- Windshield wipers and fluid. Did you know the average windshield wiper lasts anywhere from six to twelve months? While you may experience dry conditions in Colorado, if your trip takes you to other states, you may be faced with a variety of seasonal elements, including rain and dirt. Will your current wipers hold up in extreme situations and provide you with the ability to see clearly? Do you have plenty of washer fluid in case you hit a variety of elements? Carry an extra gallon with you, especially for longer trips.
- Inspect belts, hoses and fluids. The older the car, the more potential you’ll have for problems. Belts only last so long before they begin showing signs of wear, cracks, frays, or become brittle or excessively soft. Clamps can lose their tightness over time, allowing leaks and drips to begin. Fluids also begin to flow quicker as a car ages. The older your car, the more maintenance-friendly checks should be made throughout the year to ensure your car is in good working order.
- Always plan and prepare. While the idea of a vacation is to get away from it all, don’t disappear without anyone knowing where you are going. Plan out your trip in advance, and map out your routes and patterns. Stick to your schedule as much as possible, and let a family member or friend know of your plans. Check in occasionally, especially for longer trips, so they know you’re okay.