Are You Road Trip Ready?

Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. School is out, the temps are lower, and vacation time is calling. Wherever your road trip planning takes you, your whole family is excited to hit the road and find new adventures! While you are planning your route and packing your bags, take time to get your car road trip ready. Like always, Fender Mender is here for you with 5 easy steps to get you road trip ready.

Check Your Oil

The first tip is to check your oil. Are you due for an oil change? Are your oil levels low? Plan to come by your local Fender Mender to get your oil changed at least a day prior to a long drive. Seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Your motor oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Making sure your oil is clean and full is the easiest way to ensure you’ll have years of driving ahead with your car!

Don’t forget the other fluids! Windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and engine coolant are all necessary elements to keep your car running. Keeping them topped off will contribute to a smoother ride and longer life.

Check Your Tires

Before a long trip, you should check that you have a thick, even tread on all four tires. Uneven tread thickness indicates issues with your vehicle such as poor alignment, over inflation, underinflation, and more. Using a simple method called the penny test, you can make sure your tires have sufficient tread for your long trip.  According to Firestone, you can complete the penny test by taking a penny and placing it in the groove of your tire tread, head facing down. If Lincoln’s head isn’t covered, it’s time for new tires.

Penny test from Firestone Tires

Image source: Firestone

While you’re doing the penny test, go ahead and check your tire pressure. The appropriate pressure is usually found on your driver’s side door, in the glove compartment, or on the fuel filler door. If you’re not sure where to find it, bring your car by Fender Mender and we’ll be happy to fill your tires to the correct pressure. You can check the pressure for yourself with a gauge and fill them with air at a local gas station.

Check Your Brakes

Another necessary function for your vehicle is the brake system. On long drives, you want to be especially sure your brakes are in top shape. When you checked your oil, you should’ve already made sure your brake fluid was clean and topped off. You also want to ensure your brake pads don’t need to be replaced.

You can check for wear on your brakes by looking at your brake pads. According to J.D. Power, look through the holes in your wheel’s spokes to see the brake pad. They are generally 1/4” thick, so if your pads seem thinner, you may want to get them checked out. Also, if you hear a high-pitched screeching sound or if it takes longer to come to a complete stop when breaking, these are typical signals that your brakes need to be checked. Drive confidently knowing your brakes are in top shape.

Loss Adjuster Inspecting Car Involved In Accident - Check your brakes before a summer road trip

Check the Battery

When you’re on the road, the last thing you want is to be left stranded in unfamiliar territory. If your battery is several years old, check to make sure it has sufficient power. Also, make sure the leads are on tight and there is no corrosion on the terminals. As Mobil Oilrecommends, “If there is corrosion – white chalky stuff on the terminals – clean it off with a wire cable-brush available at your local parts store.” Not only is checking your battery recommended before a long road trip, it will add time to the life of your battery.

Check the Belts and Hoses

You’ve looked over your tires, liquids, battery, and brakes. The final items to check are your belts and hoses. Although often overlooked, these engine components experience normal wear just like anything else on your car. An experienced technician at Fender Mender can spot worn belts and hoses and knows when they need to be replaced. If you’re checking yourself, here’s what you need to look for.

During regular use, your engine gets very hot. The repeated exposure to heat and constant use can cause your rubber hoses to harden and crack. Look at the areas where your hose clamps to the engine first. This is the area hoses tend to crack first. Then, look over the remainder of the hose for bulges or defects in the hose. If any parts of your hose don’t look normal, it’s best to get them replaced.

In the same way as your hoses, the belts in your car experience a lot of heat and wear. Check to make sure they are in top condition before your long drive. If you have a newer vehicle, your engine most likely has one large belt called the serpentine. Make sure the belt is not showing fibers or contains worn areas. Also, make sure the belt is taught. Older vehicles have multiple belts so check each one prior to embarking on your summer adventure.

Here is a great video offering even more insight into getting your car road trip ready!

Fender Mender is Your Road Trip Team!

You rely on your vehicle to get you where you need to go – work, school, and everywhere in between. Take time to put preventative care into your car and save trouble and money down the road. Don’t be left stranded on the side of the road with your family on board! At Fender Mender, our team has over 30 years of experience and can keep your vehicle running for years to come. With one easy appointment, we can get your car in top shape for your road trip. Give us a call or visit us online!