Before you pack up and head out for your summer road trip, you want to ensure your car is ready to go the distance. Whether heading for the beach or up into the mountains, your vehicle may experience problems if you don’t have it checked out before you go. You’ll want to check and maintain several things before you hit the road if you want to ensure your car is safe and ready for you.
1. Dead Battery
If you’re taking a road trip this summer, you may have packed your car with plenty of devices to plug in. If there are too many devices plugged in at once, it can overwhelm the car battery, causing it to die. We know leaving devices plugged in is tempting, even when not in use. But if it isn’t being used, unplug it. Your car’s battery will thank you.
For some dead batteries, it is as simple as a quick jump, and you’ll be on your way. However, you should replace your car’s battery every 3 to 5 years. If it is over 3 years old, you should take your vehicle to your local mechanic for a performance check before your road trip. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s time to replace it so you don’t end up stranded on the road halfway to your destination.
2. Engine Overheating
An overheated engine is another common problem people may need help with while on a road trip. Your car is more susceptible to overheating, especially as the hot summer weather sets in. Before you leave for your trip, you’ll want to have your local auto repair shop check your coolant levels, which keep your engine cool throughout use.
If you’re dealing with overheating while on the road, you’ll want to turn off your car’s air conditioning unit, pull over, wait 20 to 30 minutes, and pour cool water over your radiator to bring the temperature down. Don’t pour water on the radiator immediately, tempting as it may be, because this may lead to even more significant problems.
3. Air Conditioning Failure
As you’re heading down the highway, hundreds of miles away from your destination, the last thing you’ll want to deal with is air conditioning failure. The days are far too hot to put off servicing your air conditioning. There are several signs that your car’s air conditioning unit needs maintenance before a road trip, which include the following:
Your Car Is Blowing Out Warm Air Instead Of Cold: The most unmistakable sign of a problem with your car’s air conditioning is that it is blowing out warm air. If your vehicle has cooled down, but the air conditioner continues to blow out warm air, it’s time to get it checked out.
Your Car Is Leaking Refrigerant: If you notice a visible leak of a thin, greasy liquid beneath your car, you may want to check your air conditioning unit. Your car’s air conditioner requires Freon to cool the air circulated through the unit. If it leaks Freon, it cannot cool the air, and the leak must be repaired before your road trip.
There’s A Clunking Noise: If there is a strange clunking noise when you engage your car’s air conditioner, followed by a lack of cooled air, it may be a sign that the air conditioner clutch failed and will need to be replaced.
4. Tire Failure
While we’re sure you have ‘change a flat tire’ on your summer bucket list, we’ll save you the frustration and tell you to get them checked before you have to do that on the side of the highway. If it’s been a while since your tires have been filled with air or replaced at all, your local auto repair shop should take a look at them before going on your road trip. Signs that your tires need replacing include:
Cracks In The Side Walls: Even if the tread of your tires is still hanging on, cracks in the sidewall of your tires may mean there’s a problem you aren’t going to see until it’s too late. With cracks in the side wall, you are at risk of a blowout.
Worn Down Tread: If your tread is worn down, there’s a risk of blowouts, skidding, and losing control of your car. A simple way to test your tread is by sticking a penny, Lincoln’s head down, into the tread. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, your tires need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Excessive Vibration: If you’re experiencing excessive shaking while driving your car, it may indicate that your tires need alignment. If your tires are misaligned, there is a risk that you won’t be able to brake properly and that your car’s handling will be compromised, putting yourself and others at risk. If that’s the case, definitely get your tires checked out before your road trip.
5. Streaky Or Broken Windshield Wipers
The last thing you’ll want to deal with on a road trip is streaky or broken windshield wipers. With poorly functioning wipers, your line of sight is seriously compromised, putting you, your passengers, and other drivers at risk. Signs that your windshield wipers need to be replaced include the following:
They’re squeaking: You shouldn’t be able to hear your windshield wipers when in use. If there is a squeaking noise, the windshield is too dry for the wipers, or your wipers are dirty or damaged. If your windshield is wet and your wipers are clean but still squeaking with every use, it’s time to buy some new ones.
They’re Old: When did you last replace your windshield wipers? If you’re unsure, that’s probably a good sign that it’s time to replace them. Windshield wipers have a standard lifespan of 6 months to a year, depending on use. If it’s been so long since you’ve replaced them that you’ve forgotten, replace them before going on your road trip.
The Rubber Is Falling Off: Your windshield wipers are exposed to every change in the season, and the variety of weather they see can cause the rubber to become brittle or fall off. If you see rubber getting dragged around by your windshield wipers with every use, it’s time to replace them.
6. Brake Problems
Your brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles. If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your brakes or never replaced them, that might be a sign that they need replacing. More signs that your brakes need to be replaced before going on your summer road trip include the following:
Your Brakes Are Squeaky: Squeaking is usually the first sign that your brakes need to be replaced. Squeaking will start when the brake pads have been worn down substantially, so if you’re hearing squeaking, consider replacing your brakes before heading out on a road trip.
You Hear A Grinding Noise When Braking: So you ignored the squeaking of your brakes. We get it. You might not have known it was a sign to replace your brake. But now the noise has amped up to the sound of metal grinding. This metal grinding indicates that your brakes need to be replaced.
You Feel A Vibration When Braking: While vibration might not be a sign that your brakes need to be replaced, it is a sign of a problem with your brakes. Your car shouldn’t vibrate when stopping correctly. If it does, go to a local repair shop because it is a sign that your brakes may not aren’t working evenly.
Avoiding Car Problems On Your Road Trip With Paskett Auto
If you’re experiencing any problems listed above, it might be a good idea to head to your local auto repair shop as soon as possible. It’s always safest to get car maintenance before a road trip to ensure safety. At Paskett Auto, our team of experts can spot any problems you may experience with your car before you’re far from home. If you have any questions or want to speak with one of our team members, contact us today.