Your AAA Network

Get Your Car Ready for a Summer Road Trip With These Tips

Summer Car Care

(Photo: twinsterphoto / iStock / Thinkstock)

Don’t let car issues halt your summer road trip plans.

Before You Go

Make sure your vehicle has had a thorough checkup.

  • Tires should be properly inflated and in good condition.
  • Fluids should be topped-off or changed, if they are dirty or contaminated.
  • The radiator and cooling system should be checked for proper operation.
  • Belts and hoses should be in tip-top shape.

“These are all things that are not terribly expensive, but if they break, can be extremely costly,” said AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul.
Check the maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. If your car has a timing belt, it might need to be replaced.

You should have your mechanic check your vehicle for problems and address any issues that might disrupt your trip.

If your vehicle has a spare tire, make sure it is in good condition, and that you have a lug wrench and a jack in your car. If your vehicle is among the 20 percent of new cars that do not come with a spare tire, consider buying one, Paul said. On a long car trip, a flat-tire kit may not be enough.

“If you’re considering a roof-top carrier, keep in mind that fuel economy could be reduced by up to 20 percent, depending on the design of the carrier,” Paul said.

While You’re Gone

If vacation plans mean leaving your vehicle at home, Paul recommends the following.

  • If the car will be sitting unattended for more than a month, consider using a battery tender. These devices transfer power from an AC outlet to the car’s battery to keep it fully charged.
  • If the vehicle will be left for several months, make sure the gas tank is full and add a fuel stabilizer.
  • Remove anything that might attract critters, such as beverages (even water), snacks and pet or bird food. Mice and other rodents can cause hundreds of dollars in damage to your vehicle.
  • Fill fluids and tires to appropriate levels.

Additionally, Paul said to consider a car cover to protect the paint and prevent stains while you’re away.

When you return from your trip, start the vehicle and drive it gently for several miles. Then have your repair shop look it over.

Find a trusted repair shop in the AAA Approved Automotive Repair network. Every facility undergoes a comprehensive investigation and meets stringent quality standards. Plus, members get special benefits.

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