Spring is in the air, and summer isn’t far behind. Now that some COVID-19 safety guidelines are being lifted, chances are you’re probably eager to put the pedal to the metal and head out on a fun road trip.
Whether it’s a quick getaway to the mountains or a cross country adventure, now is a great time to make sure your vehicle is good to go before you head out on the highway.
Nothing can ruin an exciting road trip faster than having your car break down. That’s why the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) recommends making car maintenance part of your summer road trip preparation.
BAR has tips on its website (www.bar.ca.gov) to help keep your car in tip-top shape and make your driving worry free.
Here are a few of them:
- READ YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL— Ensure your vehicle is up to date on the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance and service schedule.
- PAY ATTENTION TO WARNING LIGHTS—Never leave for a trip with your car’s check engine light or malfunction indicator light on. Have the problem diagnosed by a qualified technician and make necessary repairs before you leave.
- INSPECT THE TIRES—Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated. Look for uneven or excessive tread wear or cracks in the sidewalls. Have your tires rotated at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.
- TEST THE BATTERY—You won’t get far with a weak battery. If you’ve been having trouble starting your vehicle, have the battery tested. If your battery’s life is fine, then a simple check to make sure your battery terminals are clean should suffice.
- KEEP YOUR COOL—Turn on your car’s air conditioner and let it run for a few minutes. If it takes too long to get cool or blows warm air, you may need to have a licensed auto shop inspect the entire system.
- CHECK YOUR FLUIDS—Although this should be part of your regular vehicle maintenance, it’s also a good idea to check/top off the oil, brake, antifreeze, power steering, and transmission fluids.
- BRAKE IT DOWN— Do your brakes squeak? Have your brake pads and linings inspected for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications.
- LIGHT THEM UP—Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, to make sure they work. Keep the lenses clean to get maximum visibility.
- AIR IT OUT—Change your car’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. A dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
- CHANGE YOUR WIPER BLADES—Depending on where you’re traveling, it’s not uncommon to have spring/summer rains. So, having fresh and operative wiper blades are an important safety feature you shouldn’t neglect and be without.
- GET A VEHICLE SAFETY KIT—Most auto parts and hardware stores carry car safety kits. They usually contain jumper cables, orange cones, emergency blankets, bungee cord/zip ties, gloves, a small scraper, a multi-tool, cloths, flares and more.
Remember, it’s important to keep your car in good condition year-round. Simple maintenance can often be done easily in your own garage. Bigger items, like your engine, transmission, and fuel system components, should be serviced by a licensed auto shop.
To search for an auto shop near you, try BAR’s Auto Shop Locator at www.bar.ca.gov. To verify a shop or auto professional’s license and check for possible disciplinary actions, visit search.dca.ca.gov.