Getting Your Car Ready for Summer Vacation

by Don Elliott on June 16, 2011

You’ve packed your bags. The reservation confirmations are printed off. The neighbor has agreed to watch your house. Your mother-in-law will water the plants. Have you taken time to prepare your used car for your summer vacation trip?

Well before its time to leave, there are several steps you should take to ensure your car will perform at its best for your summer road trip.

Fuel Efficiency – With gas prices at all time highs, saving money on gas is a priority. A simple, fast way to increase your engines efficiency is to add a fuel treatment with your next tank of gas. You can increase gas mileage by 1-2 miles per gallon for approximately $6.

Oil Change – Extra miles, summer heat, and highway speeds put extra stress on your engine’s moving parts. Schedule an appointment at an auto repair shop for a new oil filter and an oil change. This will help your engine perform more efficiently adding to your fuel savings.

Tire Pressure – When your tires are inflated to the proper tire pressure, they will have less rolling resistance and maximum tread contact with the road. Check the chart on the driver’s side doorjamb, the owner’s manual, or on the tire for the correct pressure reading. Tires should have at least 3/32” of tread to be safe for highway driving. Rotating your tires every six months and before long trips will extend the life of the tires. Don’t forget to also check the pressure of the spare tire!

Air Conditioning – Most automotive repair shops have a summer air conditioning tune-up special. If you have any doubts about the amount of cold air blowing from your vents, it’s a good idea to have a trained mechanic check your air conditioning before you leave.

Engine Coolant – Make sure that the engine coolant reservoir, or the radiator on older cars, is filled to the proper level with the correct antifreeze/coolant for your car’s make and model. An overheated engine is no fun on a vacation trip.

Windshield Wipers – If it has been awhile since you changed your windshield wiper blades, now would be a good time. Replacing the blades is inexpensive and you can do it yourself. New windshield wiper blades will make driving in the rain much easier.

Lights – Take a minute with someone to make sure all of your lights are working properly. A check of the headlights, daytime running lights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals will assure safe driving. Properly working lights could also help you avoid a police officer stopping you. Working lights are particularly important if you will be towing a trailer.

Brakes – It is a good idea to have your brakes checked every 6 months or so. Some brakes have alerts that let you know when they are due for replacement. Don’t spend part of your vacation at the auto repair shop having the brakes replaced when it could have been done before you left home.

Mapping – Before you leave, enter the addresses for all of your stops into your GPS or mark them on a map. Programming a GPS while driving on the highwayisn’t safe.

Have a fun-filled, worry free vacation!

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