Prep Your Vehicle For Summer – A to Z Tips
It’s officially summertime, and that means ice cream runs, day trips, long road trips, and vacations! Don’t let vehicle trouble break down your plans for summertime fun. Kick up your flip-flopped feet and read through this A to Z list of smart vehicle prep tips, designed to ensure all you have to remember before hitting the road is your summertime playlist!
Air Conditioner – First on the list and in our hearts! We all love summer, but phew, those temperatures sometimes! If you suspect a decrease in your vehicle’s cooling capacity, take it to a professional. Have you changed your clogged cabin filter lately? It’s easy – you can learn by watching an online video!
Alignment – Hopefully your vehicle alignment is as straight as your trip itinerary. However, if your vehicle pulls to one side, the steering wheel vibrates, or it isn’t centered when you’re driving straight, have it all checked by a professional.
Battery – This one time… on a road trip, my family pulled off the highway and into a drive-up restaurant. Some burgers, fries, and milkshakes later, our battery was dead. If only we had checked before we left home… the cable connections, to make sure they were clean and tight, for leakage, oxidation or corrosion on the battery components, the fluid level, and the alternator.
Belts and hoses – Having a bulging pants belt is to be expected when returning from vacation. Prior to vacation, here’s what to watch out for:
- Water pump, alternator, and air conditioning compressor belts – Look for and replace ones with cracks, glazing or fraying, bulges, blisters, or cuts.
- Hoses that are worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft; leaks around hose clamps.
Brakes – Stop, summertime! (If you missed the corny “Hammer time” reference there, you’ll have to go back and re-read it. J) When you apply the brakes while moving, do you hear grinding or feel vibration? Are the brakes begging for extra pressure? If you’re willing to remove the tires and do your own visual inspection, do you see wearing, cracking, crumbling edges, or discoloration? If you have yeses for any of these, take your vehicle to a professional for a full pads, rotors, shoes, and drums inspection.
Emergency supplies – Murphy’s Law doesn’t take vacations – anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Check your interior and storage areas to make sure you’ve stashed the following: battery booster cables, drinking water, duct tape, first aid supplies, emergency flare or reflectors, a strong flashlight with extra batteries, gloves, paper towels or rags, rain poncho, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, and a basic tool kit.
Lights – Being stuck in the dark is only fun around campfires. Turn on all lights and blinkers. Then do a walk-around or ask a friend to help you make sure all bulbs are lit.
Oil and fluids – The protective fluids you need on vacation include sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bug repellant, and these:
- Brake fluid – If you only remember one thing from this blog, let it be this – if you ever find your brake fluid is low – DON’T JUST TOP IT OFF – TAKE YOUR VEHICLE TO A PROFESSIONAL!
- Coolant – Your reservoir should be filled with a water/coolant (antifreeze) mix. Coolant is either green or orange, so if the fluid is clear like water, looks rusty, cloudy, or has particles floating in it, or if it is sludgy or oily, have a professional check it out.
- Engine oil – If it is an amber color, you’re good; if it is black, change it. Also, check the oil filter for debris, dirt, and metal fragments.
- Power steering fluid – Replace it if it appears dark brown.
- Transmission fluid – Top it off if you’re low on this bright red fluid. Be careful not to overfill. This level needs to be just right.
Tires – Your whole road trip is literally riding on them. Obviously replace winter tires with summer or all-weather tires. Regularly inspect your four tires plus the spare. Things to look for: under-inflation, cuts, gouges or bulges in the sidewalls, and uneven wear or visible wear bars on the treads. Don’t forget the old penny trick – if you see the top of Abe’s head when you stick a penny head first into a tread, you need new tires. Lastly, when’s the last time you had your tires rotated?
Wash – You can’t take a summertime cruise down Main Street if your vehicle is covered in crud. Give your car a good wash, and remember the wheel wells, underbody, and engine area. While you’re at it, give the interior and storage areas a refresher by getting rid of trash and clutter, and cleaning the carpet and upholstery. Throw in a sunglasses- or surfboard-shaped air freshener!
Windshield cleaner – Don’t rely on your GPS to tell you where to turn – you need to be able to see it for yourself. Top off your windshield cleaner fluid if it is low. Then test the sprayer. Don’t forget the interior windshield and windows. Finger and pet nose smudges can ruin a picturesque view when sightseeing.
Wiper blades – No one wants rain while on vacation, but think about how replenishing it is for the outdoors. Check both sides of your wiper blades for wear and tear. When operating, do any streak or fail? If any of these defects are present, replace the blades.
The teams at our Holman Automotive dealerships are thrilled to help you have the best summer ever. We can address any concerns you have from this list and anything else you want us to check this summer. To find your nearest location, click here.
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