Road trips have increased since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that people who are fully vaccinated can travel within the United States safely this summer. AAA projects that 43.6 million Americans will travel by road this year.
It’s important to maintain your vehicle all year, but it is even more important when you are planning a road trip. It’s not easy to have your car break down while on vacation. AAA anticipates receiving 9.4 million calls from stranded motorists. You don’t have to be a part of this statistic. Get your car ready for a road trip.
1. Take a look inside and outside.
“Everybody is getting ready for vacations and business trips now that things have reopened. We’re getting lots of maintenance questions,” Marc O’Dell, an Automotive Service Excellence-certified master mechanic from Helena, Montana, and an on-call auto repair expert with Just Answer. This website connects professionals with those who need immediate online assistance.
Just Answer has seen a 20% increase in car questions from its mechanics this summer. It expects to receive 6,000 questions per week until Labor Day.
O’Dell recommends taking a look at your car and determining if there are any issues. Replace any damaged or worn wiper blades with a new ones. Make sure your outside mirrors work properly, and check underneath the car for oil drips.
You will need someone to test your headlights, brake lights, and hazard lights. To confirm that everything is working, turn on the ignition and have your helper stand in front of the car.
“Check to see if there are any unusual sounds. He says that if warning lights are present, it could be a sign that there is a problem with the fuel system or that the fuel injectors have become dirty. Before you go on a road trip, it’s a good idea for a fuel injector cleaner to be added to your gas tank.
Make sure your air conditioner is working at this time of the year. If your car doesn’t have AC, hot summer road trips can be miserable. If you don’t feel the cool breeze, take your car to a mechanic.
2. Take a look at the battery.
Check the hood to see if there is any coating on your car’s batteries. This is corrosion. It can reduce the battery’s life and cause problems with car performance. To remove corrosion, disengage the battery and sprinkle the terminals in baking soda. Then, add a little water to moisten the baking soda. The solution will bubble once it has neutralized corrosion. You can then lightly scrub the terminals using an old toothbrush.
O’Dell states that you can have battery problems with very cold and very hot temperatures. So keep an eye on it. To ensure that the battery can charge correctly and holds its charge, have your garage do a quick load test.
3. Check the brakes
O’Dell recommends giving your brake pedal a good push to check for responsiveness. You might need to replace your brakes if it feels too soft. Over time, brake pads (which provide friction to slow down and stop your car) wear out. If you hear a squealing or screeching sound, it is likely that your pads need to be replaced.
4. Make sure you check the tires.
Your car’s safety and fuel economy are dependent on your tires. Make sure you check for wear on the sidewalls to make sure they are roadworthy. Make sure you have sufficient tread depth and adequate tire pressure. The sticker inside your driver’s door or in your manual will tell you how much air your tires require.
5. Keep fluids topped up.
Your car’s essential fluids, oil, radiator fluid (bra fluid), brake fluid, power steering liquid, transmission fluid, windshield fluid, and power steering fluid must all be topped up and checked regularly to ensure it runs properly. Keep your oil topped up every three months or every 5,000-7,000 miles. Also, check your oil every time you fill up your tank with gas on your road trip.
6. Change the filters
Air filters keep dirt, dust, and insects out of your engine and car’s interior. The performance of your car’s engine, gas mileage, and interior air quality will be affected by clogged filters. It is important that you replace them at least once a calendar year or every 10,000 miles. Cabin filters should always be changed every 12,000 miles.
7. Make sure you have your belts and hoses checked.
O’Dell states that if you see severe damage to your serpentine belt, which is located next to your engine, it should be replaced.
He says, “Check the belt every 30,000-40,000 miles.” You’ll see tiny cracks in the rubber. If you can see more cracks than an inch, I’d replace the rubber.”
You should inspect your hoses and get them checked by a mechanic if there are any fluid leaks. A hose or belt failure during a trip can cause serious engine problems, which could leave you without a vehicle and with a large repair bill.
8. Tune-ups should not be left until the last minute.
While most drivers maintain their cars well, some people wait until the last minute to take a trip. O’Dell recommends that car owners establish a good relationship with a mechanic or repair shop in order to receive a diagnosis and repairs when necessary.
He notes that “if it’s just running an engine scan to check why an engine light has on, that usually doesn’t take too long.”
If your vehicle has accumulated 70,000 miles since its last service, it is time to have it checked out by a mechanic. It is better to bring your car in well in advance so that you have enough time to order the parts needed before you leave.
9. Take along some repair items.
O’Dell suggests that you have basic tools in case your car breaks down. O’Dell also recommends purchasing a Bluetooth code reader to connect to your smartphone to diagnose any errors that may pop up.
You should have a small voltmeter to check the battery’s charge and a set of jumper cables.