Denver is known for its pristine weather and relative access to some great road trips. Whether it’s a few days in the mountains, a weekend in the desert, or a week near the ocean, everything is within reach. The best way to plan and execute a perfect summer road trip is to take the worry out of potential car problems so you can keep your mind on the road and your favorite summer jams.
Change and check your tires
If you’re still using your winter tires, change them out for your summer tires. As you do so, inspect that each set is still in proper working order. Tires are more susceptible to blowouts during the hotter months, so ensure that they are inflated properly. Underinflated tires can put a strain on the rest of the wheel components of your car, while overinflated tires can cause more slippage on the highway during a rainstorm. As a matter of fact, if your tires are either underinflated or overinflated, they are also at risk of premature and excessive wear, shortening their lifespan and leaving you needing to buy new tires long before you should need to.
Also use this time to check that your tires are not too worn. Do this by using the penny trick: put a penny in the grooves of your tire with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the grooves hide Lincoln’s head, your tires are good to go. If you can see his head, consider replacing them before your trip.
If you use all-season tires, it’s still a good idea to inspect your tires for unevenness, cracks, or bubbles along the side, which can be a sign that something is broken inside the tire itself. As an additional precaution, check and maintain your spare tire as well.
Check your brakes
Brakes are used more often during the winter months, and your brake pads can take more of a beating than usual because of the drastic temperature changes that happen within the brake. Brakes heat up upon use and quickly cool back down because of the freezing outside temperatures. If you are replacing your tires, have a look at the brake pads. If you find discoloration or extreme wear and cracking along the edges, make an appointment to have a second look before replacing.
Check, maintain, and replace your fluids if needed
While most modern vehicles have sensors for a lot of the fluids in your car, it’s a good idea to physically inspect them before a long road trip. Some fluids, like oil, have a specific mileage to hit before changing (4,000-5,000 miles with regular oil; 6,000 or so with synthetic oil), so you might want to do that if your road trip is significantly longer. If it’s low and you have plenty of miles left before changing, top it off.
Coolant are very important during the warmer months. Your car’s engine will have to work harder to stay cool, and it does that best with the right level and mix of coolant (it’s the translucent container under your hood). Ideally, your coolant should be flushed once a year for optimal performance. If your tank is empty upon inspection, check to ensure there are no leaks before adding more coolant. Technicians at Pro Auto Care can easily check everything relating to your coolant system.
Don’t forget about power steering fluid and your brake fluid, also. These are extremely important to smooth driving on a long trip. You’ll know it’s time to add power steering fluid if the steering wheel takes more effort to move. Keep the tank full to keep the power steering system functional, and replace the fluid if it becomes a dark, murky brown color.
Brake fluid, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous to flush and replace on your own, as it’s very toxic. It’s also extremely important to keep filled since it regulates the brakes. Eye the level of brake fluid first, but also pump your brakes a few times. If anything seems amiss, get your brakes checked out. It’s best not to mess around when it comes to your brakes.
Check your battery
Most batteries are made up of a combination of an acid and water bath that suspends a lead plate. If the liquid is low, add a bit of distilled water. You should also make sure that your battery has no visible discharge or leakage around the top. Be careful when cleaning around it.
Clean or change the windshield wipers
Your windshield wipers get a lot of action during the winter and spring, so they are often worn and ineffectual when the summer comes along. By cleaning or replacing your wipers, you will decrease the number of streaks the wipers will leave. The cleaner your windshield is, the more visible it will be. No matter how you look at it, this is an inexpensive way to stay safe.
A lot of windshield wipers are also designed for specific temperature ranges. In the warmer months, you want to use windshield wipers that are lighter and more flexible, but slightly weaker.
Clean your vehicle inside and out
It may sound basic, but it’s best to give your car a good scrub down once the ice and snow are gone. Salt and sand are used on ice to make roads safe during the winter, and when they can splatter into the crevasses of your vehicle, they can eat away at the paint or other small car parts and weaken them. When spraying off your car, don’t forget to spray inside the wheel wells!
While you’re at it, clean out any items you’ve been storing in your car for winter travel, like kitty litter or sand and other winter-only tools like shovels. Clean the mats and carpets that have no doubt been caked in mud and rocks from the winter, too.
It’s important to keep everything clean not just to calm your mental state, but also to make it easier to diagnose when something is leaking. A clean area makes for quicker fixes.
Fix the small things
If you have the time and resources, use this maintenance time to also look into fixing small things that have been adding up since the last maintenance session. Things like cracked lights, a non-functional antenna, and burnt out interior lights are just a few examples of the types of things that don’t affect your everyday life, but can vastly improve it when taken care of.