Get Your Car Ready for Summer Travels to Avoid Delays

A couple driving in a vintage blue car

The summer is the perfect time to take that long road trip you’ve been dreaming about for so long. The weather is warm and sunny in every state of the union (with a few rain showers to break things up along the way), making it the perfect time to see all the beautiful landmarks that America has to offer or to enjoy amusement parks, beaches, lakes, mountains and more.
Road trips are also a great way to spend quality time with your family and to have a fabulous vacation on a budget. Driving is a lot cheaper than flying, and if you have an RV, you can also save on lodging. Meanwhile, you’ll spend a lot of time together in the car to play games and to talk about all the big questions.

Before you load up for your trip, you’ll need to make sure that your car is ready. You don’t want to sideline your trip while you look for a repair shop. Even if you can get the repair taken care of quickly, you might have to spend so much on the repair that you don’t have enough left over for your trip.

Here are a few things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready for your big, summer road trip:

Get an Oil Change

A full reservoir of clean oil is one of the most important things your engine needs. When your oil is old and thick, or when the oil level is low, your engine will have to work harder and its performance will suffer. Your engine could easily overheat or your car could break down.

That may just be a nuisance when you are close to home and can call a friend to come help you, but if you are hundreds of miles from home and have children in the car, a breakdown can be catastrophic. You may not be close to a shop that can help you quickly, and you may be stranded in an unsafe area.

Avoid this risk and get a synthetic oil change before your trip. Get fresh oil and a fresh filter, and ask the mechanic to check for leaks or any signs of other troubles. It is better to get any necessary auto repair when you are close to home than to have your trip sidelined by getting repairs in another state.

Get a Tune Up

A bum spark plug, a cracked belt, a coolant leak and many more mishaps can cause your car to breakdown and ruin your road trip. Again, don’t wait until the worst happens to find out that there is a problem.

Bring your vehicle in for a quick tune up before you go on your trip. The service will inspect all your vehicle’s important components and will top up fluids and replace spark plugs that are aging out. This important service will discover any ticking time bombs in your engine before they have a chance to ruin your trip.

Check the Tires

A flat tire is one of the most common problems you will face on a road trip. Check your tires before you go to make sure they are in top shape.

Check the tread on your tires to make sure it is still thick and healthy. Use the penny test if you aren’t sure. Simply put a penny head first in the groove of the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is too thin. If part of Lincoln’s head is cutoff, you have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread left, which you should have.

Also check your tires for signs of problems, such as bulging rubber, exposed wires, or tears in the tread.

Check your tire pressure to make sure all four tires are at the right level. Even one underinflated tire can reduce your car’s performance and fuel efficiency.

It’s also a good idea to have your tires balanced and rotated. The service will ensure your tires provide consistent performance for your trip. Getting the service will also give your mechanic an opportunity to check out the health of your tires, catching something that you may have overlooked.

Treat Your Fuel Line

You’re going to use up a lot of gas on a road trip. Make sure you don’t burn more fuel than you have to. Add a fuel conditioner and cleaner to your vehicle to help remove impurities and help the car run more efficiently.

Take the car in to have the fuel filter replaced and to inspect the system. Your mechanic can discover any underlying issues that could be costing you a lot in extra gas.

Put Together and Emergency Kit

No matter what you do to get your car ready for your road trip, you might still face emergencies. An unexpected engine problem might arise, or you might be in an accident.

Packing an emergency kit can help you deal with these situations a little better. You never know when you might have a problem on a road where there aren’t a lot of people and you don’t get a cell signal. Your kit should include first aid items, a flashlight, a road flare, a warm blanket, a few bottles of water, and some tools such as a jack, a crow bar and a spare tire. Make sure you pack a few extra snacks and some items to keep the kids entertained in case of an emergency, as well.

A road trip can be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation that will create cherished memories for your family. Make sure the trip is memorable for the right reasons by getting your car in top condition before you go. Get an oil change before you leave so that you aren’t looking for any mechanic that’s available in a strange place after you’ve broken down. Working with a trusted mechanic who knows your car will produce better results and protect your family’s safety.