An Ounce of Prevention
Are you in the habit of inspecting your car, or having your favorite mechanic inspect your car, on a regular basis? The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never truer than with your car. Regular inspections can help you avoid costly and unnecessary repairs in the future.
Seem like sound advice? Doubly so given it’s the summer vacation season and millions of Americans are taking to the roadways. Unfortunately a car breakdown can ruin a great vacation.
You can ensure that your car is in shape before you leave. The ASC certified professionals at Lebanon Friendly Sunoco recommend you do the following:
Check the tire pressure, and the tread wear.
Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure will improve fuel economy, and also ensure that your car will handle optimally in any emergency maneuvers. If you notice any damage or excessive wear (ever do the penny-test?) take your car to your favorite mechanic for a professional opinion as to the safety of your tires.
Check and recheck all fluid levels.
Most breakdowns are related to coolant problems and engines overheating. Some cooling system problems result from poor air flow around the radiator. So, before the summer driving season starts, clean out any leaves or debris that might have accumulated in the fins of the radiator. It is also a good idea to clear out the air conditioning condenser.
Checking your vehicle’s radiator cap at the start of the summer driving season is also a good idea. The temperatures to which your radiator cap is exposed to daily can erode its internal rubber gasket. So consider replacing a radiator cap that is more than five years old.
Also be aware that cars utilizing the conventional ‘green’ antifreeze have a service interval of approximately two years. Most modern vehicles, however, now use an extended life (orange) coolant that only needs to be serviced approximately every five years. Best advice is to always change your car’s coolant on schedule to ensure its anti-corrosion and thermal capabilities operate as intended.
Engine oil must be replaced at recommended intervals. Use the time and action plan for the weight and viscosity of oil recommended by your vehicle’s owner manual. And between oil changes be sure to check the oil level on a monthly basis. If your oil level is low be certain to add more right away.
Stay in charge
Check your battery before leaving to make sure it’s strong and clean the terminals. How? Use a little baking soda and water for a great connection. If your car won’t start you wo0nhlt have much of a vacation, will you?
Have a Travel Kit
If you carry an emergency travel kit check to make sure everything is there. And don’t forget a spare tire! Our kit includes screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, emergency flares, a flashlight, caution flags, good quality jumper cables, and a tire iron. Don’t forget to check your jack and pack some extra radiator fluid, too! If you don’t have an emergency kit you can find them at most automotive parts stores or simply make your own.
Do you know what your vehicle’s load capacity is? Make certain you aren’t putting too much weight in the car. On most cars the total weight you can carry is printed on the door placard inside the driver’s door. This load rating includes the passengers and any cargo and shouldn’t be exceeded.
Also be aware that your car’s fuel economy diminishes with extra cargo. Roof-top cargo boxes should only be filled with lighter, less-bulky items because heavy loads on the roof can make the vehicle more difficult to handle in emergency situations, increasing the chance of a roll over. And if you aren’t using it, remove the roof rack- it can significantly worsen your fuel economy just sitting there.
And while you are on the trip practice driving economically and save a few bucks on gas.
The scheduled maintenance that vehicle manufacturers are now recommending is so much less than what it used to be. But just because the life span and longevity of common components (spark plugs, antifreeze, transmission fluids, or timing-belts, for example) we still need to be proactive in regularly inspecting them.
These inspection and safety tips are important for more than just preparing for a summer road trip. They are practical ideas that can extend the life of your car.