Load up the family and hit the road this summer, but not before checking these items to ensure a safe and comfortable drive with a well checked car.
1 – Tire Pressure
Make sure that the tire pressure is set to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI as noted on the sidewall of your tire. An under inflated tire wears down your tread life faster, can lead to tire failure, causes poor vehicle handling, and requires longer distances to come to a stop. An over inflated tire creates a rougher ride, and is more susceptible to damage by potholes or road debris. Setting your tire pressure to the recommended PSI will create a smoother ride, and will improve your gas mileage, for your summer road trip.
2 – Check Headlights and Turn Signal Lamps
Take a moment to make sure all your headlamps and turn signal lamps are in working order before you head out of town. If you don’t have someone to check your turn signals for you, start your vehicle, leave it in “Park”, and turn on your headlamps and hazard lights. This will allow you to take a quick inventory of all your lights and notice if there is a bulb that is burnt out. Your local auto parts store can match a replacement bulb if one is needed.
3 – Check Coolant level
Check under the hood before you leave. During the summer months vehicles will quickly overheat in the hot summer temperatures over long distances if they do not have adequate coolant. If you’re low on coolant, be sure to only add coolant of the same color rather than mix colors as the colors indicate different types of coolant.
4 – Check Wiper Fluid
A clean windshield is imperative to seeing far enough ahead while driving at highway speeds. If you’ve ever driven across highways in Wyoming, Eastern Colorado, or the Midwest you will know that your windshield will quickly be covered by bugs that came head on with your windshield. Additionally dust and pollens build up making your windshield glass less transparent. Make sure you have a full reservoir of windshield wiper fluid, and perhaps a refill jug for a long trip, saving you an extra stop at the convenience store.
5 – Last Oil Change Mileage
Is your vehicle coming up on its routine oil change date or mileage? A round-trip cross country road trip can quickly add up thousands of miles. If your service date/mileage will occur while you’re out on the trip, you can do your car a favor by having the oil change done prior to the trip. Having clean oil and an adequate amount of oil reduces wear and tear on the engine and improves the longevity of the vehicle.
6 – Wiper Blades
If your wiper blades are leaving streaks when in motion or if the effective rubber blade is starting to rip off from the wiper, it’s time to replace them. You can easily find the correct replacement wiper blades at your local auto parts store or Walmart automotive department just by knowing your vehicle year, make, and model.
7 – A stash of supplies to leave in your car
If you’ve heard the stories of drivers getting lost in remote areas, out of gas, out of cell phone range, and mislead by their GPS directions, you know that a stash of extra supplies in your car can save your life. There are comprehensive lists to help you plan your emergency stash (http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/emergency-kit.php), but having a first aid kit, blanket, water proof ponchos, water, and nonperishable foods are a good start.
8 – Roof rack luggage limits
Roof racks and cargo boxes are a great way to conveniently fit in what you can’t fit inside the vehicle amongst passengers and other cargo. Plan your load appropriately. Roof luggage rack capacities vary from vehicle to vehicle. Check the cargo weight capacity in your owner’s manual and the manuals for any aftermarket cargo accessories you have installed. Overloading your roof rack can make your vehicle top heavy, which is noticeable at high speeds and tight turns, and can lead to an accident.
9 – Air conditioning system
If you haven’t turned on your air conditioning yet, test it out before you head on your trip. Air conditioning systems become less powerful over time and need a recharge. Make a service appointment to get your air conditioning system recharged so that you and your family can travel in comfort during a summer road trip.
10 – Give your travel itinerary to someone
Whether you’re driving alone or with others, it is wise to give your travel itinerary to someone else. Save your family and friends the stress if they are unable to reach you because you are traveling outside of cell phone range. Should you get lost or have trouble, your travel itinerary including routes and destinations will help narrow down where to find you.