Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Important Tune-Ups During a Cross-Country Road Trip

Nothing beats traveling on the open road with loved ones and your favorite tunes on the stereo. There’s that feeling of freedom mixed with the promise of adventure and novelty. The thought of creating new memories is refreshing.

The last thing you want to deal with in the midst of all that travel is a flat tire or overheating. A visit to the local auto body shop or dealer could cost you and put a damper on your fun. As such, a couple weeks before you set out on your road trip, it’s a good idea to get your car looked at by a professional, or tune-up your car yourself.

Vital Fluids

This won’t even require car lifts and could actually be done at home. Inspect your car’s vital fluids, especially the anti-freeze/coolant solution and engine oil. Your car’s manual should indicate the recommended grade and service classification of oil that will best suit your car. For proper lubrication, keep your engine oil at the “full” mark. As a general rule, you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, though you should check your owner’s manual as every vehicle differs.

Coolant is vital for weather extremes. If you plan on driving for long hours through desert conditions, your coolant will make sure your engine doesn’t overheat or sustain damage. Similarly, coolant ensures that your engine doesn’t freeze up in colder weather. Most cars use a 50-50 mixture of water and coolant. The coolant should never be over 70 percent. Don’t add plain water to your cooling system unless it is an emergency.

Tire Check

Checking and/or changing your tires at home can be made easier with tools like a tire changer and car lift. Flat tires tend to be one of the most frequent problems the average motorist has to deal with. On a road trip, even new tires can suffer some damage.

Check your car’s tires carefully. This includes the spare in your trunk. If the tires are worn down unevenly, you may have some problems with alignment, suspension, or wheel-balance. Worn tires should be replaced before the trip. Purchase tires that match the car maker’s specifications.

Under-inflation can increase the heat build-up in tires, which could lead to some dangerous results. Make sure to keep tires properly inflated. When you’re on the road, stop by a gas station and put some air into your tires until they’re at the proper pressure. Tire pressure specifications can be found in the owner’s manual or the driver’s side door jamb.

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