With Memorial Day weekend here and summer around the corner, many Americans are planning road trips. This is exciting to think about, but is your car ready for that long road trip you have planned? Especially before heading out on vacation, it’s important to be up to date on your vehicle’s basic maintenance schedule. Continue reading to learn how you can take care of your car before hitting the road.
6 Things to Check before Hitting the Road
If you’re not on top of your vehicle’s basic maintenance, you could be causing more problems than you know. Service schedules are there for a reason. If you let something go for too long, it could cause even bigger problems and lead to even more expensive repairs.
For example, not changing the oil enough could lead to the engine breaking down. Oil is necessary to keep the engine protected from all the moving parts. Neglecting to change it frequently means you run the risk of the old oil wearing down and decreasing your engine’s longevity.
With this in mind, taking care of your car is important. The Car Care Council recommends that you have these six things checked by both you and a certified mechanic before you hit the road this summer:
- Fluids – Like the oil we mentioned above, check power steering, brake, and transmission fluids. Don’t forget to top off the windshield washer fluid and check the coolant, too.
- Brakes – Make sure the brakes are inspected and have the pads and/or rotors replaced if needed.
- Tires – Get all four tires at the proper pressure, and have them rotated and/or aligned if you haven't in a while. It's important to check the pressure and wear of your tires regularly.
- Hoses and belts – Make sure the hoses and belts aren’t loose or cracked, and replace them if they are.
- HVAC system – Switch out the engine and cabin air filters if needed, and ensure that your heating, cooling, and defrost all work.
- Wipers and lights – Make sure all exterior and interior lights work properly. Also, replace your wiper blades if it’s been a while since you last swapped them out.
Other Car Care Tips
Keeping up with the maintenance schedule is important, but there are some other vehicle care tips you should consider, as well. One of these is cleaning the engine. You only need to clean it a few times a year, but it’s best to be safe and do it before you know you need to drive your car for a long period of time.
Cleaning it is simple, all you have to do is remove any lingering debris such as grass and leaves with a cloth, and apply engine degreaser and let it soak. While it’s soaking in, you can scrub any grime off with a stiff bristle brush. Once the degreaser is done soaking, just rinse the engine off with a regular hose.
As for the interior, make sure you clean out any trash, remove unnecessary items (such as an emergency winter kit if it’s no longer winter), remove any stains, and vacuum and dust. This makes the inside look fresh and feel more comfortable and clean.
The Bottom Line
If you want to keep your vehicle running and not deal with expensive repairs, follow your car’s suggested maintenance schedule – especially before going on a long road trip this summer. On top of that, make sure any small issues you notice are fixed as soon as possible.
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