Memorial Day weekend will soon be upon us, the unofficial start of summer. From the final weekend in May through the first weekend in September, people will be hitting the road in increasing numbers. Gas prices are already reflecting the attendant jump in demand for petrol and are expected to surge past $3 per gallon for regular fuel in the coming weeks.
Though harsh winter weather is often considered as being the toughest on your car, hot summer temperatures can offer a corresponding challenge for your ride. Before you hit the road for an extended trip, why not become reacquainted with your driver’s manual to find out what maintenance should be done.
With this in mind, the following seven tips can help ensure that your next road trip is a good one:
1. Check tires – Excess wear and tear can be dangerous, causing you to lose grip when needed the most. Rotate your tires twice annually and get the wheels aligned. You’ll extend the life of your tires while improving overall handling. Make sure that your brakes and suspension system is working fine too.
2. Cooling system – Has your car’s radiator been flushed recently? You may not see a leak, but the radiator core could be rotting which means trouble down the road. Insufficient coolant can mean that overheat your car and warp or crack a cylinder head. Check belts, hoses and other connections while you’re under the hood.
3. Air conditioning – Leaking refrigerant, a bad compressor or loose belt can impact the effectiveness of your a/c unit. On trips around town that may not be so bad, but when heading to the shore in bumper to bumper traffic with temperatures soaring in the 90s and the car filled with cranky kids….
4. Engine, transmission – You’ve been changing the oil and oil filter on schedule, but what about the transmission? These two components work in tandem: you may need to have the tranny oil flushed and replaced.
5. Your fuel – If your owner’s manual says that you must use premium fuel then do so, otherwise you risk voiding your car’s warranty. If premium is an option, go with regular to save about 20 cents per gallon.
6. Road help – Auto club plans can come in handy especially if you are driving an older car and that car is no longer covered under a warranty. One break down far from home can cost you a mint; compare plans and choose one offering extended range towing.
7. Toll booths – Long lines at toll booths can cost you time and money. If your trip takes you through areas where electronic toll payments are accepted, then sign up for “EZPass” well in advance. Plus, you may receive a discount.
Of course, if you can’t handle the upkeep of your car first, find a mechanic who is qualified to service your vehicle. Make sure that your car is current on all upkeep to decrease the possibility of an unfortunate summer breakdown.
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