Prevent Car Trouble on Summer Trips

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Driving, Family, News, Service | Posted on 02-07-2013

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Heading off for a summer road trip?  Here are a few pointers to help ensure that your trip goes smoothly.

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WHAT TO CHECK BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Tire Pressure – Tires should be inflated to manufacturer’s recommendation; you can find the recommended tire pressure label inside the driver door-jamb, in the glove box of most vehicles, or in the owner’s manual.  Under-inflated tires become hot, and can cause a blow-out.   Properly inflated tires also save on fuel.  Also, check your spare to make sure it is ready to use just in case.

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Check your door-jamb for tire and inflation information

Coolant – Make sure your anti-freeze/coolant is up to date and the level is full.  Use only the coolant recommended by the manufacturer for your particular car, and have it serviced according to the recommended maintenance schedule.

Washer Fluid and Wiper Blades – With plenty of bugs flying this time of year you need to make sure you have a full tank of washer fluid.  Make sure your wipers don’t streak, and that the rubber is not split or torn.  Wipers should typically be changed once per year.

Engine Oil – Check your oil level, making sure it is on the full mark.  Double check that your service is up to date, and if your trip will cause you to exceed the mileage that is recommended for your next oil change, change it early.  Clean oil will protect your engine and keep it cooler better than dirty oil.

Battery – Hot weather is actually harder on batteries than cold weather.  Inspect your battery terminals for excess corrosion.  Corrosion can be cleaned off by making a paste with baking soda and water and scrubbing off with a wire brush.  If your battery is older, it is a good idea to have it checked before you go on a long trip.  Any signs of acid leakage and the battery should be replaced.

Belts and Hoses – Visually check that hoses do not appear to be leaking or bulging.  Look at the underside of the belts, and if there are any cracks in the ribbing, the belts should be changed.

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Replace cracked belts

Lights – Make sure all lights work, including license plate and side-marker lights.  Make sure the headlamp lenses are clean and clear for best night driving.

 

WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU

First Aid Kit – Have basic supplies like bandages, burn ointment, insect bite treatment, anti-biotic ointment and alcohol wipes available.

Water – You never know if you will find yourself stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day and not be able to get off the road to get drinks.  Have water for all occupants available.  Power bars are also good to have on hand in case you can’t get to food easily.

A Fully-Charged Cell Phone – Today’s cell phones are loaded with useful options from GPS to lodging suggestions. Of course, in an emergency, the ability to contact help is the phone’s most valuable function. Also, purchasing a car charger for your phone will ensure you’ve always got enough battery life.

A Flashlight with Fresh Batteries – Whether you have to locate lost items under seats, change a tire in the dark, or flag down assistance, a flashlight can prove very useful. Many smart phones can be used as a short-term flashlight by simply downloading an app.

A Road Atlas – GPS is great, but not always perfect for finding detours.

A Rain Suit – Even large trash bags can be used in a pinch, but it is a good idea to have rain protection in case you have to change a tire in bad weather.

 

OTHER FUEL SAVING TIPS

In addition to making sure your tires are properly inflated, here a few other tips to help save fuel:

Use Cruise Control – Studies have shown that by maintaining a steady speed over all terrains by using cruise control, you will improve your fuel economy.

Use A/C – It may sound counterintuitive, but A/C is more efficient than opening windows, because open windows create excessive drag.  The most efficient is to do neither, but driving in a hot car can speed up driver fatigue.

Drive the Speed Limit – As unpopular as this might sound, every 5 mph you add will decrease your fuel economy by up to 10%.  It becomes more pronounced over 65 mph.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and trouble-free summer road trip!

 – From Contributor, Matt Jones, Smart Toyota Service Manager and 18+ year automotive service and repair professional

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