A lot of my clients use the summer months to enjoy road trips. Here are some tips to make your travels safer, more economical, and more comfortable.
A lot can happen “where the rubber meets the road,” so make sure tires are properly inflated to ensure safety and fuel efficiency.
Check your tire pressure in the morning, when the temperature is at its coolest for the day.
Don’t guess about proper tire pressure: look at your sidewall to find out the manufacturer’s recommended MAXIMUM pressure.
Your tire pressure should be about 80% of the maximum recommended. Why? As the temperature rises during the day, and as you drive at highway speeds, the air inside your tire heats up and expands. You want to leave enough room inside your tire to handle that expansion.
Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated, too!
You should check your fluids before beginning taking a trip. These include engine oil, brake fluid, antifreeze/coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid.
Look under your car to see if anything is leaking. Clear water from condensation on the air conditioning unit isn’t a problem, but everything else is! Check the color of your fluids, too—fluids that are dark and thick are dirty and need to be replaced.
Check your hoses and belts. Hoses tend to fail close to where they connect to engine parts. Belts may look great on the side you can see easily, but they may be damaged on the underside, where they connect with engine parts. Check both sides for wear and cracks.
When driving with the air conditioner running, set your air system to re-circulate the interior air. Your a/c won’t work as hard to cool that air as it does to cool the hotter air from outside.
Keep your windshield wipers in good repair: it’s no fun losing visibility in a cloudburst or thunderstorm!
Keep your windows clean, inside and out. Dirty windows increase glare when driving into the sun and contribute to poor visibility in all driving conditions.
Take care of these easy-to-manage issues, and your car will do its part to make sure you have a great road trip!
Not long ago, one of my friends had a rear tire blow out while she was driving at high speed on the Interstate.
Even worse, the tread separated from the tire and the steel belts in the tire literally made fringe of her rear bumper.
She was lucky: a blowout is loud, and the natural reaction is to slow down quickly and make a quick turn to the side of the road. The steel belts in the tire could have cut through the gas tank, fender well, and brake lines, and could even have shattered glass.
What to do if this happens to you:
- Keep your cool. Do not make any sudden changes in speed or direction.
- Stay in control of the car, and slowly decrease your speed by easing off the accelerator, not by tapping the brakes. Braking with a blown tire at high speed can cause you to lose control of the vehicle, and often results in an accident.
- Use your turn signal to let other drivers know you’re heading for the side of the road.
- As your speed reaches about 30 mph, you can move toward the side of the road, preferably the same side as the tire is on. This minimizes the chances of losing control, and also ensures you’ll be changing the tire away from fast-moving traffic.
- Bring the car to a safe stop, as far out of the traffic lane as you can.
Put on your emergency flashers.
Now, if you’re able to change the tire yourself, you can do it safely.
If you need to call for help, you can do that without obstructing traffic.
Minimize the risk of a blowout by keeping your tires properly inflated.
Remember that cell phone service is sketchy in many places. Keep poster board, markers, and tape in your emergency kit so you can make a SEND HELP sign. Rig it so you can put your mile-marker location on it. Passing drivers will know exactly where to send help (Ex.: South I-75, Mile 268).
Happy Mother’s Day!
Remember the days when you were just learning to take care of your own car, and your Mom or Dad would remind you always to check the oil so you wouldn’t burn up your engine?
One of the things I’m always telling people, when I service their cars, introduce myself at networking meetings, participate in Chamber of Commerce events, or just chat about car care, is this:
It’s easier and less expensive to replace your oil, than to replace your engine.
Keeping the right level of fresh oil in your engine is easily the single most important thing you can do to prolong the life of your engine and keep it running at peak performance.
On this Mother’s Day, why not give your Mom a gift that will make car care the least of her worries: offer her a year’s worth of oil changes!
And to make the gift extra special, schedule those oil changes on a day when you can go out to lunch together.
Have a great Mother’s Day!
What an honor, and such a wonderful surprise to end the year!
On December 12, I learned that New Hope Auto & Truck Services had been named to the 2012 list of Super Service Award-recognized businesses by Angie’s List!
Angie’s List is the “you can’t pay to get on it” list that provides consumer-generated evaluations of businesses all across the country.
What this means is that my shop’s terrific customers took the time to tell other people about the service and customer care they experienced at New Hope Auto & Truck Services. Sort-of an online “word of mouth” recommendation.
So, if you look to the right, you’ll see the “badge of honor” that Angie’s List sent for me to display.
Thank you so much to the car owners who entrusted their vehicles to me, and who earned for me this badge of distinction! I look forward to providing you with excellent car care and customer service in the coming year!