How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Summer Travel
Summer is just around the corner and that means lots of hot-weather driving, road trips, taking the kids to and from playdates and activities and more. It might not yet be time for your car’s annual service, but here at Griffith Motor in Neosho, MO, we know all too well that even small and simple steps taken before the summer hits can ensure that your car is in optimum condition to thrive in the summer sun.
In today’s blog, we’re sharing with you our best suggestions on simple things you can do to prepare your car for the summer.
1. Tire Rotation and Alignment
Your vehicle isn’t going anywhere without properly rotated tires and aligned wheel axles. Starting with your car’s tires, you should check the wear on the tread and then the air pressure. To test the wear, you can perform the simple “penny test.” Take a penny and slot it into the tire’s tread with President Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see all Lincoln’s head, then your tread has likely fallen below the minimum 2/32 of an inch requirement.
If your penny test proves that the wear on your tires is below the minimum, then you could start the summer with a nice fresh set of summer tires. If you’re expecting a cold winter come November-December, however, it might still be better to stick with all-season tires. In any event, whether you detect lower than minimum wear, or just uneven wear, you could always benefit from either a tire rotation or replacement. This is a fast, simple and affordable bit of car maintenance that gets your car ready for the summer roads.
For tire pressure, check your owner’s manual and see what the optimum level of inflation is and ensure that you are within those parameters. Extremes in temperature affect your tire pressure, and usually in a negative way. In the summer, the air in your tires expands in the heat and takes up more volume. It’s therefore important to make sure that your tires aren’t overinflated.
Now that your tires are in good order, you should also remember to have your wheel alignment checked. Driving without both axles properly aligned can be dangerous, and if you haven’t had it checked in a long time, then right before your summer peak driving period is a great time to get it done. A full alignment with computerized equipment typically doesn’t take more than an hour to get done.
Besides ensuring that your wheels are all facing in the right direction, it will also flag up any issues with your suspension and steering systems, which is useful.
2. Full Detailing
The summer marks the end of a school year, the start of a great time of family fun, road trips and vacation time. What better moment is there in that case to get your car fully detailed. Here at Griffith Motor, you can have your car detailed inside and out for just $79.95 ($89.95 for a truck, van or SUV), and right before summer is a great time to do it for several reasons.
First and foremost, detailing doesn’t just clean your car, it restores it to practically showroom quality. Remember that first day you picked up your car? It had that gleam and that terrific smell of new car. You can get that back when you get a proper detail, and there’s no better way to kick off the summer season.
Second, getting your car detailed is a practical measure for the summer. As you travel about for your vacation time, you’ll likely be on the road a long time with the sun’s UV rays beating down on your car, not to mention the bird droppings and squashed bugs that can come your way. All of these things have a detrimental effect on your car’s paint, but they won’t if you’ve detailed and protected the paint ahead of time.
Finally, cleaning the interior of your car in particular creates a more pleasant atmosphere for the summer season and helps you get the car better organized for a road trip or other activities. It’s amazing how much dust, trash and other debris can build up in the darkest corners of your car’s interior. A detailing is a chance to clear out and start over.
3. Check Your Brakes
Getting your brakes checked sounds like a major bit of maintenance, but in fact it’s very simple. Regardless of whether you suspect any kind of issue, it’s a good idea for a professional to take a look at your brake pads and rotors to make sure everything is in good order. Brakes are so fundamental to the safety of your car that it makes a brakes check worthwhile irrespective of whatever big or small plans you have for summer driving.
If you have also been hearing any grinding or squeaking noises from the brakes, then that’s another good reason to get them checked. Unwanted noises like that are usually sign that something needs a mechanic’s attention.
4. New Wiper Blades
Quite a few places in the US, including right here in Neosho, MO experience higher levels of rainfall in the summer months. It’s not simple drizzle, either, but rather summer downpours often with stormy backgrounds. If you’re driving in that kind of rain, then your wiper blades have to be absolutely up to scratch.
Recently when you used your wipers, did you notice any smearing of water across the windshield? Do the wipers judder or squeak as they cross the screen? If it has been a while since you changed them, then the wiper blades may be worn, cracked or otherwise damaged. If you did change them not long ago, then perhaps they are not fitted properly. It’s a simple matter to check and switch out wiper blades, but it makes a huge difference to your overall driving experience.
5. Top-off Engine Fluids
Your car and your driving experience rely on at least five critical fluids being at optimum levels and in prime condition in your car. They are as follows:
- Engine oil
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield washer fluid
The first four of these are absolutely critical to the proper functioning of your engine, transmission and steering. If any of them are either at the wrong level, or currently in a poor condition, then it’ll make any road trip you are planning a lot less fun. It will only take a professional a matter of minutes to check these fluids and make sure you’re good to go.
As for windshield washer fluid, you can easily pop the hood and take a look at the reservoir yourself. If it looks low, top it up and always keep a spare bottle of the fluid (or two) in the car just in case. Not having enough won’t stop your car working, but it will mean that you’re at risk of losing visibility as your windshield gets increasingly filthy. Not even those new wiper blades you installed will work without the proper washer fluid!
6. Make Sure the A/C is Working
No summer car is ready without a properly working A/C system. Check to make sure it’s blowing cold air as and when you need, but also ask a pro to take a look and make sure the key components look okay and that there’s enough refrigerant to keep you cool all summer long.
7. Belts and Batteries
Two things that could have become worn through the winter and therefore could leave you stranded if not checked before summer are the belts (and hoses) and your car’s battery. If you regularly service your car, there’s a good chance that your drive belts and radiator hoses are all in good condition, but it’s worth a quick look under the hood if you’re not sure about it.
The battery may also have corroded connectors or other damage. It will need to be running at full capacity to support you through a long summer. You also ensure that it’s secure and held down properly in its place under the hood. It’s probably better not to tinker with the battery yourself. Anything to do with the car’s electrical system gets both complex and dangerous.
8. Load Up the Car Supplies
This final one isn’t necessarily something that the team at Griffith Motor can help you with, but it’s solid advice nonetheless. Keep a good stock of essential supplies in your car’s trunk and interior storage compartments. The following are always good options in the summer:
- First aid kit
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable snacks
- Travel games
- Spare jackets and/or waterproof gear
It’s better to have these things and not need them than the other way around. Make sure you also keep copies of your car’s key documentation in the car, too…just in case.
Check-in with Griffith Motor for Your Car’s Summer Needs
If you’re in Neosho, Missouri or the surrounding area and need help with getting your car, truck or SUV ready for the summer, don’t hesitate to stop by. Our friendly team is ready to listen to what you need and make it happen. Go with Griffith, we are your one-stop shop.