Things To Inspect Before You Go On A Road Trip

It’s finally Summer time! If you're like most of the population, you will probably be taking a road trip at some point this Summer! Before you embark on your adventure, we want to make sure you car will be able to hold up. Continue reading to learn how to prep your car for the Summer heat! 

  1. Change Your Oil

This doesn’t typically pertain to newer vehicles, since they generally run quite well year-round on a synthetic oil with a particular viscosity weight and shouldn’t need oil changes until every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. But as a vehicle racks up miles, the seals on its engine begin to wear, and switching over to a heavier oil with different detergents could be a helpful upgrade in summer months. Do your research before changing up your oil preferences, and look online to see who has had success in the past with running a heavier/thicker oil in your car in the summer, as some cars do better with this method than others. A good rule of thumb is higher temps require higher oil weight/viscosity, while lower temps need lower/thinner engine lubrication.

  1. Check your AC

This is an area where service shops rip people off all the time, saying that they need a full flush and leak-down test in order to make sure an AC unit is working properly. If your car is on the older side and nothing cold is blowing out of the vents, chances are you either need a fresh charge of freon, or your heater control switch is stuck in the “ON” position. A full AC system evacuation and recharge should be the last thing on your to-do list, so if tossing in a can or two of refrigerant from an auto store every spring solves the issue for an entire year, go ahead and do it.

But if you find the AC only blows cold for a week or two and then runs hot, go ahead and get a pressure check on the AC unit in order to see what condition your system is in, and just pray that your compressor didn’t lock up.

  1. Check Your Battery

Everyone thinks about their batteries dying in winter, but what no one ever considers is how much strain is placed on our charging systems in summer. Running an AC system, the constant kicking-on of cooling fans, and the incessant pull placed on your alternator from blaring music with the windows down can be really hard on a car’s battery over time.

Pop your hood and see what date is stamped on that battery, and if it’s over three years old it might be time to start considering a new unit. Even if your old battery is still working fine, it’s better to have the local auto parts store drop a fresh one in free of charge instead of running the risk of being stuck on the side of the road. 

  1. Top Off with Fresh Fluid

Mechanics make a killing convincing people that they need a radiator flush every summer, when all they really need is a top-off with fresh fluid. This stuff is referred to as both antifreeze and coolant for a reason, as it keeps your engine from freezing to death in winter and overheating in summer. Checking your coolant overflow container levels when the engine is cold should give you an accurate reading, and never, under any circumstance, should you open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

Now if your car has a bazillion miles and you can’t recall ever giving your coolant system a tune-up, spend the money and put in a new water pump, thermostat, and some fresh fluid because it’s probably long overdue. Just remember to always use the suggested antifreeze found in your owner’s manual.

  1. Buy New Tires

Tires typically need air, rotation, an occasional re-balance, and an alignment every now and then in order to live a long, healthy life. But what most people don’t consider is that in certain ways summer can be just as tough on tires as winter. Rubber heats up and gets sticky in summer, which is good for traction but not so great for longevity. Throw in a road trip or two, copious amounts of dangerous debris, a few potholes that are leftover from winter, and an impromptu burn out or two, and you’ve got chords popping out of your tires in no time.

Most people tend to go with an all-season tire, and while it may sound attractive to have rubber that can tackle a little bit of everything, you’re basically compromising on all levels. Naturally, if you live somewhere that never sees snow, then you are one of the few individuals who can get away with all-season rubber. But for the rest of us up north, Reina strongly suggests investing in a set of wider wheels and summer tires for warmer months, and putting dedicated winter tires on skinnier stock rims every autumn. It will cost more up front, but the added piece of mind in winter, and the boosted traction levels in summer, will keep you safe and satisfied if you are an aggressive driver.

  1. Inspect

This final tip is a free and easy way to help guarantee that nothing goes horribly awry when you’re out on the open road this summer. Checking fluid levels, battery terminal connections, belts, hoses, wipers, brakes, tires, and lighting will not only give you piece of mind when it’s time to drive, but it will also warn you of any forthcoming issues your car might be facing.

Diminishing fluid levels, oil leaks, excessive engine noise, and brake rotor marring are all warning signs to watch out for, and nipping a problem in the bud now will likely save you from a costly issue down the line. So be sure to inspect so you don’t regret!