Summer often means treks to the beach or mountains, or maybe a family road trip across the country. Before you head out, be sure your vehicle is ready for warmer weather.
Inspect the Tires
If you use snow tires for winter weather, make sure you swap them out with regular tires when the snow melts away. The extra grip of snow tires means they wear more quickly on dry pavement, plus they reduce your gas mileage. Check tires for wear and consult the manual to make sure they’re inflated to the right pressure. Properly inflated tires may save you about $112 a year in gas, according to Edmunds.com.
Check the Oil
Consult the manual to see how often the oil should be changed. Most cars today use a modern multi-viscosity oil, which can allow it to go 5,000 to 7,500 miles between oil changes.
Clean the Car
If you haven’t done so since the previous snow fall, a trip through the car wash (or a thorough hosing down in your driveway) will help get rid of winter salt and grit that can damage the paint and undercarriage.
Check the Radiator, Cooling System and Belts
According to AAA, overheating is the most common cause of summer vehicle breakdowns. Look for wear on belts and radiator hoses, and have the coolant level checked. You may also need to have the air filter replaced if it’s dirty.
Test the Air Conditioning
You may have a very uncomfortable summer if the air conditioning isn’t cooling properly. A trip to the repair shop may be in order, or you can purchase an A/C refrigerant kit and recharge the system yourself.
Consider Replacing Wiper Blades
Clearing snow and ice from the windshield all winter may have done a job on your windshield wiper blades. You’ll appreciate new ones when driving through a heavy rainstorm.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gasoline prices are projected to average $2.40 a gallon nationwide in 2017. Low gas prices often translate to plenty of traffic. If you’re planning a summer road trip:
- Take along chargers for your cell phone and other electronic devices.
- Plan ahead for lodging stops, especially if you’re bringing kids along. Spontaneous is great until you have worn-out children and the nearest motel is booked.
- Carry paper maps along in case you can’t access GPS.
- Keep kids occupied with games, snacks and perhaps portable electronic devices. Pack water and snacks in the car.
- Bring an emergency kit with first aid supplies, a flashlight, extra batteries and a blanket (it can get cold at night if you’re stuck somewhere). Have road flares or reflective triangles in case the car breaks down.
- Keep a spare tire and jack or temporary tire repair kit and know how to use it.
- Follow the rules of the road and obey speed limits.
- Don’t try to cover too many miles in one day. Pull over and rest if you get sleepy.
Remember—the journey is part of the fun. Enjoy your trip and stay safe! And, if a new car beckons this summer, check out auto loans at Navy Federal Credit Union.