So you and your friends are channeling your inner Jack Kerouac and have decided to embark on a cross-country road trip. It’s something that many of us want to cross off of our bucket list, but make sure you aren’t one of the many people who can’t finish their journey because of car troubles. Here are five essential tips that us here at the Automotive Training Center truly believe will keep your car in tip-top shape on your adventure.
1. Check your coolant.
Have you ever seen a car pulled over on the highway with smoke billowing out from under the hood? Don’t be that person. Check your coolant level to see if you have any leaks so that your car won’t overheat after driving 70+ mph for hours at a time. It’s also worth buying an extra jug of coolant to keep in your car for your return journey.
2. Maintain your tires.
Make sure your tire pressure is at the suggested level to avoid blowouts at high speeds. Maintaining your tire treads so they’re ready for the trip is important as well. An easy way to do this is to grab a penny from the bottom of your pocket, flip it upside down and place it in one of the tire’s grooves. If you can see the space above Abe Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new tire.
If you decide to blow off tire maintenance before your trip, at least make sure you have a spare tire with a jack and wrench so you can fix your tire, which almost inevitably will blow out without proper maintenance.
3. Clean out your car.
All that junk and trash in your passenger seat and backseat makes your car heavier, which in turn burns more fuel. So that old lacrosse gear, those textbooks, the leftovers your grandparents insisted you take home and the general trash all has to go. Besides, a road trip means countless bags of snack and food wrappers. By the time you get back, the inside of your car will be just as dirty.
4. Check your air filter.
Find your air cleaner housing and open it to check the air filter. If the filter is black and full of gunk, don’t even think about hitting the road. Go get a new one, it’s worth it — plus, your owner’s manual should tell you how to change it yourself. A backed-up air filter will prevent your car from receiving power, and you could end up with a dead car on the side of the road in some town with a name you can’t pronounce.
5. Check your suspension and alignment.
You’ll probably end up packing a lot for a long road trip, so having solid suspension is key when you’re carrying your luggage. Be sure not to overload your vehicle and to distribute the weight evenly to keep your ride smooth. An alignment checkup is worth it to make sure that your car doesn’t experience any swaying or shaking when you reach speeds over 70 mph. Better safe than sorry.
If you want to help people solve their vehicle issues and work with some cool rides, you might have what it takes to be a top mechanic. If that’s your dream, we want to help you make it happen. Visit our website to learn about career opportunities for the automotive high-performance technology graduate. To request more information about the Automotive Training Center click here.
You can also download ATC’s free ebook, 7 Secrets for Improving a Vehicle’s Longevity, to learn how you can keep your car running for years to come.