The heat is on its way and it is time to do some summertime fun in the sun. In the summer most people will be taking to the road for that excursion away from the humdrum of everyday life. Loading the car up with luggage, and possibly the kids, and you’re on your way. Wait, did you forget something? Could it be to make sure the car was in tip-top shape before making the trip.
I remember as a kid, it would seem more likely than not, we would have car trouble on our vacation trips. Only because my parents wouldn’t take the time to do some simple checks before we left on our vacation. Had they done these simple little checks, we could have saved a vacation that either didn’t start or end on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Believe me, it was miserable sitting in a hot car knowing we had to go back home or…, well, it was just miserable no matter what. Here are some tips I wish I could have shared with my parents as a kid.
On the side of the tire it indicates in PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch), what the tire pressure should be. It might say something like, 35 PSI. It will be different for every car, so make sure you check the side of the tire before inflating. To check the pressure most gas stations, have a tire gauge on the air valve. In order to check the pressure, you will have to take the cap off the tire stem and then apply the end of the air nozzle to the tire stem. The gauge will pop out showing you the pressure of the tire. If the tire is below the recommended level, then you will need to put more air in until desired pressure. If the tire is above the recommended level, you will need to let some air out. Not all gas stations have the gauge built into the valve, so check before you start and if there is not one a gauge can be purchased at an auto parts store for less than a dollar. Proper tire pressure is not only a safety matter, but it can also help to reduce the cost of one’s gas mileage. While checking the air make sure to examine the tire for good tread, nails or other objects that could be in the tire. A nail or other object could cause a blowout and those aren’t any fun at highway speeds. A bald tire can cause a car to slip on sandy, slick or wet surfaces.
Car’s require oil to reduce friction on the motor and reducing the risk of the car overheating or worse, blowing the engine and making it inoperable. Checking the oil is a simple process. You will want the car on level ground. Make sure the car has sat for at least 30 minutes before checking.
You will need a rag or paper towel to check the oil. The dip stick is usually on the right side of the motor and has a ring or handle on it. When you gently pull the ring or handle a flimsy medal band will become exposed. Keep pulling gently until it is completely exposed. At the bottom of the band you will see markers that indicate the minimum and maximum oil levels. The oil, brown in color, should not be below minimum nor should the oil be above maximum level. If the oil is below minimum level, your local automotive store has oil you can purchase and a database of the recommended oil for your vehicle. Most cars only hold about 5 quarts so you should not need more than 1 quart. Automotive stores personnel are always willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you know you have a slight leak, you might consider keeping a quart in the trunk and check your oil periodically along the trip. A funnel comes in handy too.
Newer cars have a reservoir that is translucent (meaning you can see through the container) and on the side will be marked minimum and maximum or possibly the words, “Do not fill above this mark”. You will want your levels to be between these two markers and preferably on the higher side towards maximum. It will also indicate if you need to put in radiator fluid or mix of water. If it is low, I recommend going to the automotive store and again, they can assist you with recommendations. The coolant is there to help reduce the heat of the engine. A little tip I learned when I was younger, no water in the radiator or reservoir can causes the A/C or heater to not operate at its top performance.
The washer fluid is usually located by the coolant container and has the same marks indicating its level. It can take window cleaner or water or a mix of both. The most deprived of fluids, it is just as important as the others. If you can’t clean your windows off while driving, it can make it difficult to see out the front window when something lands on it and blocks your vision.
They should not be falling apart and as you just put fluid in the windshield fluid reservoir, test them out by using your windshield fluids and make sure they don’t leave streaks. The automotive store has recommended replacements for these too.
If all this seems a little too much for you, you can always go to your local oil service shop or auto repair shop and for a small fee or possibly free they will check your fluids for you. I am sure if you need fluids, they may likely charge you for the cost of the materials, but I have had instances where they have not. If they don’t charge you, remember to give them your business the next time you need an oil change. And don’t forget, while you are there, make sure to ask them to check your fluids, windshield wipers and the tire pressure.
We hope this was helpful for your road trip and a fun summertime vacation. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and share the article with friends and family. We wish the best for you and your family on your summertime road trip. Happy safe driving!
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