Summer is all about going on road trips and traveling long distances in your car, truck or SUV. It’s the best time to see the sights, explore new areas and spend some time with the family. But with any road trip, it’s important to be prepared, and it’s even more so important in summer when temperatures can get high causing problems for you and your vehicle. Because of the high summer heat, vehicles are more prone to overheating so it’s important to take the time to put some additional care into them to ensure they run properly. The last thing you or family wants is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, or on the side of the road in the blistering heat. Before going on any trip, you should consult your trusted Auto Shop in Fort Collins(or any other 4×4 mechanic or service station if you’re not here in town) and have them do a full inspection, top all fluids and check all moving components. However there are some steps you can take to be more prepared for your road trip.
Change the Oil!
You would be surprised how many people neglect to change their oil regularly, and not doing so can cause serious motor issues. You should always change your oil when scheduled maintenance is due, but this is even more so important before going on a road trip. Oil is important to ensure all moving parts are properly lubricated free of dirt and other particles. If you can afford it, consider going full synthetic. It’s a little pricier, but worth the investment, especially if you’re driving cross-country. At the very least put in synthetic blend! The standard viscosity for oil is a 5W-30 oil, but if you’re in an extremely hot area you may want to consider going for a different oil formula. Talk to your 4×4 mechanic and see what they recommend.
Check all the Fluids
Like oil, fluids help make the moving parts of a vehicle move easier. There are a lot of fluids that are vital to prevent overheating, such as coolant, so it’s important these are all checked, topped off, and replaced if necessary. Check the transmission fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid and others.
Hoses and Belts
Hoses and belts crack and break easily under high heat, so be proactive and check the condition of them first before going on your trip. One of the most common reasons a car overheats is because of a broken fan belt or water pump. Make sure you or your mechanic takes the extra time to inspect all of these components. If a hose is unusually hard, it’s likely close to cracking. If it has any bulges or blisters, this is also an indication that they need to be replaced. Change them sooner than later or you’ll regret it!
Check Your Tires
Tires are also a very important component to check on your vehicle. Since they are in constant contact with the road, they already get blistering hot, but add the already hot pavement from the sun to the equation and tires will take a lot of abuse. First you should check the tread on the tires, if they’re starting to get bald it may be time to replace them, otherwise you could be stranded on the side of the road changing a tire in 90-degree heat. To check the tread you can just eyeball it, but if you’re not sure take a penny and stick it in between the tread-lines. On most tires the penny should be about a quarter to halfway hidden indicating the tread is still good. Before casting off you also want to check the tire pressure. Keep in mind that heat makes air particles expand so don’t fill up your tires to the recommended maximum limit, you’ll want to be somewhere in the halfway point.
Bring a Tool and Emergency Kit
Packing extra supplies is always important in case something does happen. Pack jumper cables, a flashlight, a basic wrench and screwdriver set, multipurpose tool duct tape and anything else you think would be important. Your 4×4 mechanic should have some good insight on what to bring. Also be sure to include a first aid kit complete with bandages, antiseptic, aspirin, water and emergency food. It’s recommended you keep all these items in the same general area so you’re not struggling to find them should an emergency arise.
Check all Aftermarket Parts
As offroad enthusiasts there’s a good chance we have a few aftermarket parts on our vehicle. There’s nothing worse than driving down the road and having one of these parts fail or fall off, so make sure you get all of these components inspected properly by a specialist in 4×4 accessories.