High on the short list of terrible things that can happen on a summer road trip – along with getting lost in a different state or forgetting your valuables in a rest stop bathroom – is having your mode of transportation fail on you. Car troubles are bad enough when they happen during your everyday life. Having something happen to your car while you’re on a road trip just compounds the frustration, fear and confusion. Here at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission, we want your summer vacationing to be as pleasant as possible, so the only screams you hear are ones of delight as your family spends time making memories, and not waiting for roadside assistance. Here are four tips for preparing your car for the rigors of the summer road trip.
1. Check fluid levels! This might seem like a massive checklist already, but the risk of something going wrong and damaging your car’s parts or leaving you stranded makes it worth checking every single item on this list. You should check your engine oil, transmission fluid, gasoline, antifreeze/ radiator coolant, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid and power steering fluid. You should also check the filters for your engine, transmission and gasoline for cleanliness, tears/holes or obstructions. Getting your fluids checked is probably the most important, because so many of these systems are mission-critical.
2. Check your tires, belts, hoses and wipers. Your hoses and belts connect the systems in your car to each other and to the fluids they need to run properly, so they shouldn’t be neglected. On the hoses look for leaks, bulging area's or worn areas. With your belts, its easier to see a bad belt than a good one. Look at the part of the belt that contacts your pulley's. In most cases it will be ribbed. Look for cracks or missing sections and the belts should look rubbery and not shiny. If either of these exist or if you are not sure, it's make good sense to have one our Technicians at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission look things over for you. With your tires, be sure that your tires have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread on them and they are inflated to your vehicle requirements. You can check the tread on your tires using a penny. If you stick a penny in between the treads and you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires don’t have enough tread on them. The number on the side of your tires is a maximum amount of air pressure, and during the summer, you want the actual air pressure in your tires to be close but not quite at that amount. Most manufacturers put tire pressure recommendations on a sticker in the jamb of the driver’s door. Make sure you check the pressure in your spare tire as well. Nothing is more aggravating than to find you spare is flat when you need it most.
3. Make sure the A/C works! People stuck with each other in a sweaty, moving vehicle without any means of escape, sounds like a horror movie, or at least a really bad vacation story. Do your family a favor and don’t make them put up with summer discomfort. If your A/C isn’t pumping enough arctic air, get your refrigerant levels checked and your system tested before you all pile in the car. Don’t try to fix you’re A/C yourself with can of refrigerant from the Auto Parts Store. Reasons for no or lack of cooling are many and not always due to low refrigerant. By the way, A/C systems don’t function well without the exact amount of refrigerant in the system. Refrigerant that is too low or too high will cause the system to shut off or at least have trouble cooling.
4. Check your emergency tools. Every vehicle has tools that will allow you to change a flat tire, no matter where you are. To prepare for the worst, make sure you have all the tools that come with your vehicle and that you have some understanding of how to use them. As mentioned earlier, check the spare tire for proper inflation. If you have wheel locks, make sure you have the special unlocking socket with you as well. This is critical because if you need to repair a damaged tire, it will need to come off the car. Without this tool the shop will have to use a tool to remove the locking nut which makes it unusable afterward. Finally, you might want to build a little kit with some safety items in it. Things like a flash light with batteries, 4x1 screwdriver, first aid kit, jump box or jumper cables, reflectors, charging cords for phones, etc.
The summer road trip is an American standby, and it can either be the best part of the summer or a week of torture and car problems. Starting your trip without a car check-up is just asking for something to go wrong. So, visit your local Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission to make sure everything is running smoothly so you can enjoy some quality time with your family this summer!