Summer is heralded by sunshine, warmer weather and for many of us, the lure of the open road. Before you load up your favourite road-trip mix tapes, consider inspecting your vehicle for readiness.
1. Air Conditioning. Nothing makes driving long distances seem longer and excessively unpleasant than a lack of air conditioning. Test the A/C to ensure the blower motor works and fuses responsible for fan speed aren’t faulty. If it is not as cool as it used to be, it probably needs a charge or has a leak. That is something your mechanic can easily sort out for you.
2. Power Steering. If you notice that whenever you make a turn in your car it feels like wrangling cattle, you might very well have a power steering problem. Steering pump problems can be serious and have detrimental effect on your ability to drive. Bring it into the shop if you hear squealing, see puddles on the driveway, or have trouble turning the wheel.
3. Spark Plugs. Check your spark plugs. Spark plug functionality is important to ensure other parts of the car work properly, like the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter is helps reduce vehicle emissions. If your car is ever inspected and determined to have emissions over the government mandated level, you could be subject to a steep fine. Making sure spark plugs are in good order can prevent trouble with the catalytic converter.
4. Your Battery. Extreme cold or extreme heat affect the health of the battery. Heat can accelerate corrosion, and batteries subject to repeated high temperatures will become damaged. Extreme cold makes batteries sluggish and reduces the ability to provide sufficient power. Check the terminals for corrosion and have your mechanic check the battery life at your next service.
5. Leaks. One of the easiest inspections you can do is to examine the area beneath where your vehicle is parked to see if there are puddles. Damp spots resistant to evaporation could be the result of an oil leak, fluid from the brakes, or fluid from the transmission. If this is the case, get your fluid levels checked immediately.
6. Brake problems. Signs of worn out brakes include squeals, whines, or noises when you apply the brakes. Pay attention to the brake pedal feeling “soft” or mushy, or alternatively “grabbing” or a stuttery sensation. Any of these require follow up.
7. Tire trouble. Tires do react to rising temperatures, especially heat coming from asphalt and tar on the roads. Always be sure that your tires are properly inflated. It’s also a good time to check to be sure your tire tread is intact before for long summer road trips.
8. Windshield Cracks. If you drive frequently on asphalt or gravel roads you may have a cracked or chipped windshield. These minor defects can result in a larger problem should your summer trip take you down more gravel country roads. A good knock on a damaged windshield can result in an accident or injury.
9. Shocks. Those gravel roads or potholes spell trouble for your shocks, and subsequently your braking system. If you feel your car is uneven, feels sluggish in the turns, or bounces excessively, get them checked.
10. Don’t Run Out of Gas. Finally, with all that driving it’s not uncommon to find yourself low on fuel while you are on a long stretch of highway with no gas stations. Make sure you are full before you go on long trips, and load a gas station finding app on your phone if you are going somewhere you have never been before, just in case.