Nothing says summer like a road trip. As the weather warms, Americans start making plans for their next cross-country excursions. It’s a great way to see the sights and create lasting memories with loved ones. Hitting the highway, however, can be a grand adventure or an epic headache. Get your used car ready for a summer road trip, and ensure safe, comfortable travels when you follow these tips.
Check the Tires
To say that everything’s riding on your tires is a fact. Correctly inflated tires matter, especially in the summer. An underinflated tire will run hotter and reduce your overall fuel efficiency. Combine that with sunbaked roads and a heavily loaded car, and you could be at risk of a dangerous blowout as you’re cruising down the highway.
Follow the tire pressure guidelines listed in your car’s owner’s manual or on the decal on your car’s doorjamb, not the value on the sidewall of the tires. That number represents the tire’s maximum safe pressure, rather than the ideal measurement for driving. The recommended tire pressure figure is for cold tires, so if you’ve driven a few miles, go a few pounds higher.
Remember to check the jack and spare tire, too. Even if you’ve never used your spare, make sure it’s inflated properly. Test your jack out to ensure it’s in good working order. The last thing you want is to be stranded with a blowout and a faulty spare or jack.
Keep Your Cool
Keep your cool on the way with a fresh bottle of antifreeze. While the name sounds like this engine liquid is for winter use, the chemical also prevents your car from overheating. Today’s modern cars and trucks are engineered to last a long time, yet if your vehicle is creeping up in mileage, a summer coolant flush will keep it on the road. Catch any leaks or worn hoses now, or you could be stuck with steam pouring out from under your hood.
Get the Oil Changed
Think of oil as your vehicle’s lifeblood. It lubricates essential engine components and keeps your car running smoothly. Get the oil and filter changed as part of your preflight checklist. A long road trip puts stress on your vehicle, and adding new oil when you’re low won’t help. An oil change will remove the old oil that’s full of system-clogging sludge.
Pack an Emergency Car Kit
Even when the weather is nice, you don’t want to find yourself in a broken-down car. A fully stocked emergency car kit is essential on any trip. Take a few preventive measures, and fill a box or plastic bin with items such as a tire gauge, jumper cables, and a flashlight for added peace of mind. Put in a couple of water bottles and a few snacks just in case you need to wait for a tow.
Don’t let your car keep you home this summer. Follow these handy tips, and you’ll be on your way to adventure.