Summer Maintenance Tips You Need Before Your Next Road Trip

by Jessica Smith - June 30, 2021
happy father and daughter in car

What if your road trip was interrupted because you were driving around with a ticking time bomb? That may sound a bit dramatic. But if you haven’t been performing proper maintenance on your car, you never know when something will go wrong.

The heat of summer can wreak havoc on everything from your belts and hoses to your tires. And the sheer number of summer travelers can make driving a challenge.

But you can overcome that challenge and have an awesome road trip if you know how to maintain your car. Keep reading to discover our top summer maintenance tips!

Change Oil and Filter

It’s the kind of thing your parents and your mechanic love to remind you of. But before you kick off your summer vacation, you need to change the oil and filter in your car.

Honestly, it’s important to change these throughout the year regularly. But the extreme heat of the summer places additional stress on both the oil and your filter. If you don’t change them before extensive driving in the brutal summer heat, you may end up with a smoking car by the side of the road.

Check On Your Coolant

It’s important to check the status of your air conditioning. Beyond just making sure that it’s blowing cold, you also need to check on the coolant system inside your car.

To begin, you can simply check the coolant levels and top them off if they are low. But you should also check the coolant reservoir and the hoses. You don’t have to be a trained mechanic to notice if there are any unwanted leaks.

While you’re in there, take the time to squeeze the hoses to make sure they feel nice and firm. However, don’t do this until the engine is nice and cool!

Inspect Tire Pressure

In the summer, it’s especially important to check your tire pressure. While this is another maintenance tip that is important throughout the year, the summer heat will make this a priority.

That’s because the heat puts extra pressure on your tires. In fact, for every increase of ten degrees, there is an extra pound of pressure on your tires. If you don’t check the pressure before a big trip, you could experience an unwanted flat tire or blowout.

You can check the pressure with a tire gauge to make sure each tire is between 30-35 PSI. But if you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, your mechanic can take care of it.

Top Off Your Fluids

Earlier, we touched on the importance of checking on your coolant. But before any kind of major road trip, it’s important to top off the rest of your fluids. This includes power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and even windshield wiper fluid.

All of these fluids are crucial to the safe operation of your car. Unfortunately, most drivers don’t know their vehicles are low on these fluids until it is too late.

Top these fluids off before you hit the road to avoid such a nasty surprise during your road trip.

sideshot of hand coming out of car window in summer

Examine Belts and Hoses

One of the most important parts of your car is the serpentine belt and its hoses. If that belt wears down, it can affect your power steering and make the wheel nearly impossible to turn.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional mechanic to inspect the belt and hoses. All you have to do is pop the hood and see if any cracks or pieces are missing. If that’s the case, your only real option is to replace it altogether before heading out on your big trip.

Test the Brakes

If you want to avoid car accidents during your road trip, it’s important to test the brakes. Otherwise, you might not know there is an issue until you crash into another car.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to test the brakes. To begin, gently apply the brakes and listen to hear any odd squealing noises. This may be an indication that your brake pads are wearing thin and need to be replaced.

While you’re at it, make sure that applying the brakes doesn’t lead to any unexpected results, including your car pulling to one side. In short, trust your instincts: if the braking doesn’t “feel” right, take the time to have your brakes professionally inspected and, if needed, replaced.

Brake maintenance will also make it that much safer when you are traveling with children.

Battery Check

Car batteries are tricky things. On the one hand, your vehicle is likely to warn you when the battery is dying. On the other hand, you usually don’t get much warning before it needs to be replaced. And that’s probably the last thing you want to worry about when visiting a new area.

On top of that, heat is the main thing that kills batteries. Put it all together, and you have a powerful incentive to test your batteries before hitting the road.

If you know what you’re doing, you can use a multimeter to test the battery. Otherwise, we recommend having a professional examine it and make recommendations. Either way helps prevent your battery from dying when you’re driving (which is particularly scary when driving at night).

Importance of Alignment

If we’re honest, many drivers overlook potential alignment issues. That’s because it’s easy enough to put up with when you are just making short local trips.

However, summer means road trips and other long drives. And if your car is out of alignment during these drives, it can damage your tires and even hurt your gas mileage. Considering the rising gas prices during the summer, fixing the alignment may pay for itself in gas savings!

Get the Protection You Need

All of these summer maintenance tips will keep you and your family safe. But for maximum protection, you need a good insurance company at your back. Here at Bluefire Insurance, we provide insurance plans and Roadside Assistance plans that every driver needs. Feel free to reach us by filling out this contact form. Or you can pick up your phone and give us a call at (866) 424-9511.

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