Did Someone Say Road Trip?

Everybody loves a good road trip.  It’s really the chance to enjoy the journey before reaching the destination.  Who doesn’t love a good roadside attraction – World’s Largest Pistachio? Carhenge? Garden of 1,000 Buddhas? Don’t ask me twice, I’m there! 

Before you hit the road with your best pals, it’s good to know whose car you’re going to be taking and more importantly whose car you should be taking for a long road trip!

Your Car or Mine?

If you are going to volunteer “Big Red” for the long haul, make sure your car is up for it!  It’s important to take the preventative measures, so you don’t get stranded in an unfamiliar place.

First, check your fluids.  Check your oil levels and the date you’re due for your next oil change.  It is better to do this before you even take off for a road trip.  If you are close to the manufacturer’s-recommended oil-change listed, then change it.  Mobil recommends a synthetic motor oil for long distances, especially in hot weather.  This will be ideal for a summer road trip! 

Also be sure to have transmission and other motor oils checked.  Both your transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant supply. Check your owner’s manual for their change intervals. A regular oil-change shop can handle the greasy job of changing manual transmission oil and the differential oil. While they are under the car, have them give the drive-shaft U-joints and any other grease points a squirt of grease.

It is very important to have your car’s coolant system checked.  In the extreme summer temperatures, your coolant can reach as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit, causing your car to overheat.  Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road to begin with, but especially during the warm summer months! In order to check your cooling system, you’ll want to check the radiator and hoses for leaks or cracks.  Be sure all of the connections are snug and before even getting under the hood, make sure your engine is cool! Once you have gone over the coolant system, you should also do a routine maintenance check-up. 

Do a quick run up the local freeway to listen for noises, feel for shakes, and watch for trouble signs in the gauges. Don’t assume everything is fine just because you drive your car every day. This is a test, not a commute, so focus on your car. Do you hear grinding or moaning from the wheels? That could be a bad wheel bearing or a worn CV joint. Does the car pull? Check for alignment problems or worn tires. Does it shimmy or squeal under braking? Might be warped rotors or worn pads. Does the brake pedal feel soft? Might mean worn pads or bad fluid. Do the headlights flicker at idle? It’s probably a loose alternator belt, a dying alternator or corroded battery terminals.

Give your brakes a few pumps to check them out!  The DMV states you should inspect your brakes if your summer includes frequent thunderstorms and rain, since wet brakes can be less responsive.  You can either refer to your owner’s manual (or your mechanic), on inspecting your brakes.  When you are having your brakes inspected, find out about the brake pads. The warmer temperatures can increase the temperature of your braking system, which can wear your pads more quickly.

If it is the choice between you or your friend’s car, you should both do the routine maintenance check up to see whose car is in better shape!  Consider checking off car maintenance items before you offer to take your car for a road trip and especially before you leave.   If Big Red starts acting up in the middle of your trip, it could potentially cause you to have to end your road trip early. 

Carsurfer Admin

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