Summertime means road trip time! And next to snacks and a kickin' playlist, the most important thing you can have is a reliable vehicle. Road trips should be all adventure and relaxation, not stress and worry if your vehicle is going to make it the next 100 miles. A little work now can mean a whole lot of peace of mind later.
We found a great article over at Travel Pulse describing the top 3 simple ways you can ensure your car will be road trip ready!
1) Ensure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated
Consider investing in a tire pressure gauge if you don't have one already. They only cost a few dollars and will give you an accurate reading of your tire pressure. Also, make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure and not the maximum pressure.
"Many people mistakenly think that the correct inflation pressure is located on the tire's sidewall. What's listed on the sidewall is the maximum inflation pressure for the tire. Check for your tires' recommended pressure on the driver's side door jamb or in your owner's manual," Jamie Bullis, lead technician at Minnetonka, Minnesota-based Firestone Complete Auto Care, told TravelPulse.
Keep in mind tire pressure will change as you drive because of shifts in temperature.
2) Check Your Fluids
Although a full tank of gas will be first on your priority list, it's important to pay attention to the other fluids that keep your vehicle running.
Oil and transmission fluid are critical.
"Regularly scheduled oil changes will help keep your engine clean and avoid the potentially engine-damaging effects contaminated oil can inflict," added Bullis.
"By keeping up with your vehicle's recommended transmission fluid change schedule, you can keep your transmission in good working order and decrease the likelihood of costly transmission repairs down the road. In many cases, a transmission fluid exchange is due every 30,000 miles or two years," said the former Bridgestone Retail Operations/ASE Master Technician of the Year.
Plus, don't forget coolant, which prevents boiling, freezing and corrosion. Bullis points out that coolant is basically "a warm blanket in the winter and a misting fan in the summer."
3) Remember TRIP
TRIP is an acronym for Tail lights and turn signals, Roadside emergency kit, Inflation pressure and Penny test.
Before you leave home, make sure all of your lights and signals are in working order. That's as simple as turning them off and on while one of your passengers watches from outside the car.
A roadside emergency kit can also come in handy during the event of a breakdown. Things to consider are a blanket, a flashlight, flares, long jumper cables and a tow rope. Extra snacks, water and clothes won't hurt either.
Finally, once your tires are properly inflated, use the penny test to ensure they have enough tread. Place the upside down penny in the tread and look to see if any part of Lincoln's head is covered. If so, you should be ready to ride. Otherwise, it's probably time for some new tires.
"To maximize tire tread life, rotate and balance your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles by taking your car to a trusted tire dealer or automotive service center," said Bullis.