Master Mechanic: Do These 8 Things Before Taking a Summer Road Trip

After the painfully long winter of 2019, the recent jump in temperature has probably got you excited for your first summer road trip. Well, we at Master Mechanic have a few simple precautions you should take before hitting the road. And while we don’t anticipate a heatwave just yet, long drives in the heat can be hard on your car. From cracked hoses and leaky radiators to under-inflated tires and dirty filters, these unpleasant side effects of hot weather can lower your fuel efficiency. Or worse, they can lead to a total breakdown.

So before you pack up the Family ‘Truckster’, we recommend checking your car’s most vital components to help avoid breakdowns and car problems.

Check Your Wheels and Tires

Temperature changes your tire pressure significantly—in cool weather, a tire can lose one to two pounds of air per month. And tires with low air pressure wear out far quicker. So make sure they’re properly inflated and have enough tread—this includes your spare.

It’s also a good time to have your wheel alignment checked. If your car pulls to one side or your steering wheel vibrates, your alignment may be off, which can cause unnecessary wear on your tires and reduce fuel efficiency. An alignment servicing will make for a smoother ride during long-distance road trips.

Inspect Your Brakes

Your brakes are arguably the most important component of your vehicle. When yours aren’t functioning properly, nothing else matters. Between stop-and-go traffic, long commutes and harsh weather, your brakes could be more worn than you think. Whether your brakes are making abrasive noises and squeaks, or they require more pressure to function, this is the perfect time for an inspection.

Change Your Oil and Filter

If your most recent oil change was many months ago, this one’s a no-brainer. Intense weather of all kinds can put extra stress on your engine. Oil keeps your engine lubricated while a clean filter keeps out more harmful debris. Changing both will keep your oil clean and your engine running smoothly when it needs it most.

The Electrical System

Heat is the most frequent cause of battery failure and reduced battery life. So check the battery terminals to make sure yours is charging properly.

Check Your Fluids

You keep your body hydrated in the summer, right? Your car’s no different. Sharp changes in weather are known to diminish power steering fluid, coolants and windshield wiper fluid. Coolant is especially important in the summer months, as overheating is the leading cause of summer breakdowns.

Monitor Your Rubbers

From hoses and gaskets to drive belts, these can get dry and cracked in the heat, causing leaks and malfunctions. So check them for cracks, bulges and frayed edges.

Inspect for Leaks and Corrosion

Be sure to test your pressure, your thermostat and your cooling fan every year. Have your mechanic inspect for leaks and corrosion. And keep your radiator clean with a hose and soft brush to remove bugs, dirt and debris.

Protect Your Paint with a Wash and Wax

Don’t forget about your car’s exterior—summer can be as harsh as winter on the paint and finish. Have your car washed every week and waxed every 4-6 months, and your car will thank you.

Remember, a great road trip favours the well-prepared car—especially in the summer heat. And there’s no better way to make sure yours is ready to hit the road than by scheduling an appointment at your local Master Mechanic. With the exception of washing and waxing, our expert mechanics can help you with all of the above, so your road trip is memorable for all the right reasons.