Looking to hit the road?
Make sure you check in with your car to make sure it's in tip-top shape before you hit the streets.
Our technical experts have come up with a list of things that you should check out on your car before your next road trip.
1. Change Engine Oil
You've probably heard it from your dad a long time ago, and it's just as true now as it was with his '75 Buick Wagon – get your engine oil changed at regular intervals. If anything, it's truer now than it was then. If you still use conventional oil, the range between 3,000 and 5,000 miles between changes is good and for synthetic oil, the intervals can be about 7,500 miles or more.
Check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations on oil brand and weight as well as on oil change intervals. In fact, some vehicle engines are designed for anti-corrosion agents, friction modifiers, gasket conditioners and other additives in proprietary motor oil formulations. Using another type of oil can cause damage in the long run and can invalidate a warranty.
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2. Check Coolant
The coolant in your vehicle's radiator works three times in the summer season. In addition to keeping your car from overheating, the coolant protects against corrosion and lubricates your water pump. However, the coolant degrades and loses its effectiveness, so you should change the conventional coolant every one to two years and extend the coolant life every five years. Can't you remember the last time you changed your coolant? Don't worry. Use an antifreeze tester to check your quality.
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3. Check Battery
Summer can be tougher on the battery than winter, so bring your battery to your trusted mechanic for testing.
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4. Inspect Tires
Check the tread on the tires of your vehicle. Rain-slick roads shorten stopping distances and reduce maneuverability. Poor tire tread worsens both conditions, so replace your tires as needed. Generally, tires should be replaced when the tread is 3-4/32 inches. You should also rotate your tires and be sure to check the air pressure frequently.
Changes in temperature affect your tire pressure, with approximately 1 pound per square inch ( psi) gained or lost by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the pressure first thing in the morning. The heat of the day, and especially driving, is going to inflate your tires a little, and you want to check them when they're cold. Low air pressure can lead to inferior performance and reduced gas mileage.
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5. Check Fluids
Check your fluids, especially your lubricants. If you're planning a long summer trip, it's a good idea to change the oil and check your owner's manual for advice on viscosity for the temperature range of your destination.
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6. Check Suspension
Tire-wear patterns caused by bad suspension parts usually take about 500 to 700 miles to set in where they will only get worse, even if the parts are fixed. The higher tire temperatures caused by extended road trips will only make them more severe. Run your hands lightly over all four of your tires, feeling the difference in height that indicates bad shocks or struts.
Next, push down strongly and release each corner of the vehicle quickly. Anything more than four rebounds (and, if you're the safest, the less) means that you have weak shocks or struts. Also, if you see any wetness (indicating that it's leaking), replace it.
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7. Check Fan Belts
When checking the belt, you should test the tensioner by pressing the belt in the middle of the longest run and checking to see if it deflects more than an inch and a half and then twisting it to see if it twists more than 90 degrees. If you can push or pull the belt more than one inch and a half, the tensioner should be replaced.
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8. Check Brakes & Brake Fluid
Your brakes are the primary safety system for your vehicle. They 're even more important if you're carrying and/or carrying any kind of load. Typically, the front brake pads will last between 30,000 and 60,000 miles, depending on how the vehicle is used and driven. Your brakes will normally send you warning signs that should alert you to the need to be looked at. Even if your brakes don't send out these signals yet, you should still look at them and check that everything is fine.
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One thing many mechanics have overlooked is the condition of the brake fluid. Using a large flat blade (screwdriver or popsicle stick) lightly scrape the bottom of the brake tank. Remove the scraper and check for the buildup of the sludge. If this is excessive, you should completely flush your brake fluid with fresh fluid. Brake fluid absorbs moisture and any droplets of water in the system can boil in extreme heat and cause air bubbles, leading to a spongy brake pedal and poor braking performance.
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9. Fuel System
Your vehicle's engine needs a high flow of clean air to run properly. There are two basic styles of air filters: those that are at the top of the engine, and those that are not. The ones at the top of the engine are usually in a circular container that is secured by one or two butterfly nuts. Those that are not normally inside the box that is mounted on the fender. If you can't see the light through it, it has to be replaced.
Depending on the quality of the fuel you normally buy, the fuel filter will normally last between 12,000 and 15,000 miles. Clogged fuel filters can not deliver the amount of fuel your engine needs to run properly. Fuel filters on most carbureted and some throttle body injection engines will be located either on the throttle body / carburetor or between the carburetor and the fuel pump. For other fuel-injected engines, the filter will either be mounted on the bulkhead or under the car near the fuel tank.
How to change the fuel filter depends on where it is located. Most vehicles have a filter located between the pump and the carburetor that can be changed by a straight screwdriver. Fuel filters on some older injected cars are mounted with clamps, while newer vehicles need special tools to remove fuel lines before filter removal.
Now that your engine is getting clean air and fuel, it's time to make sure it can take advantage of it. Over time, fuel injectors and carburetor jets can be clogged with fuel additives and low-quality fuel. Consider fuel system treatments and cleaners, depending on your car's needs. Our associates will be pleased to help you choose the product that will help your engine.
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Article Date: May 22, 2020