Embarking on a vacation is a summertime rite of passage for millions of Americans, whether traveling to a favorite destination or venturing to someplace new. While flying is one option, most of us rely on our personal vehicles to get us there. The following road trip tips include accomplishing all maintenance tasks and smartly packing your car before you hit the road.
Review Your Maintenance Schedule
The last thing you want to happen while you’re on the road is a breakdown. You can greatly reduce the chances of this occurring by adhering to your car’s maintenance schedule and completing all due items before traveling.
This also entails accomplishing tasks that may be due while you’re traveling or by the time you return home. For example, if your next oil change isn’t due for 1,500 miles, but your trip will take you at least that far, then change the oil and oil filter before you travel.
You’ll also want to check all fluids — transmission, brake, coolant and windshield — and top them off as necessary. Again, if it’s time to flush the radiator or change the transmission fluid, then get these tasks done before you leave.
Hoses and belts are another concern, and they may not wear out according to schedule. Lift the hood and inspect each hose. If the rubber feels squishy or appears cracked, then replace the hose. Replace any belts that are frayed, cracked or have loosened. If a belt screeches when pulling away from a dead stop, then it’s time to replace that one, too.
Car batteries suffer the most under hot temperatures in the summer. The ambient temperature may be 90° F, but under the hood temperatures may approach boiling points. Heat is your battery’s biggest enemy, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. This means that if your battery is approaching the end of its expected lifespan, then replacing it before you head out is a wise decision.
Tires carry several thousand pounds of vehicle mass, and keeping you and everyone else safe is a priority. Rotate tires as required and replace them when the tread wear indicators are showing. Check your spare too — the last thing you want is a flat tire and a dud spare. Keep in mind that properly inflated tires and activating cruise control will go far in enhancing fuel economy.
You’re not done yet! Brakes that squeak, grind or pull indicate at least one component needs replacing. Also, swap out wiper blades that are old or cracked.
Finally, before heading out, ensure your roadside assistance membership is up to date and your emergency kit has everything you might need.
Pack With Care
The longer you’re away, the more likely you are to pack extra clothes, bring additional food and include some of your favorite creature comforts from home.
Even after careful packing, you may find that you don’t have enough space to bring what you want. This is where a car top carrier comes in handy, enabling you to pack items inside the carrier and fix it to the top of your vehicle. With its eight adjustable straps held in place by side release buckles, you can safely and effectively house your remaining items without dangerously overstuffing your usual cargo space. You’ll also want to easily access the spare tire, just in case.
Once you have the maintenance and preparations behind you, enjoy the trip — you deserve it!
Check out all the safety and accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on summer road trip tips, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.