The warm weather that spring and summer bring means lots of great local activities, whether it’s strolls through the park, kids’ softball games, or tending to the lawn and garden.
These bucolic pursuits sure are relaxing, but sometimes you just gotta break free and hit the road. Let’s face it: The road trip is as American as apple pie. Despite torturous gas prices, people still long to experience the open highway. It’s a freedom-filled adventure, for sure. What doesn’t feel so free, though, is having your car conk out in Nowheresville, South Dakota, on the way to Mount Rushmore. It’s enough to make those giant carved presidential heads weep in sympathy.
There is one major step, however, to guard against your excursion turning into an agonizing expenditure featuring lots more images of Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln (in the form of ones, twos and fives.)
Bring that vacation-destined vehicle into Star Auto Authority for an extensive pre-trip inspection. We’ll give it our bumper-to-bumper examination and let you know about any developing situations that might leave you stranded.
Plus, we’ll also review any issues that might be robbing your car of fuel economy and your wallet of crisp, green presidential portraits. You can even use our Fuel Cost Calculator to calculate your estimated annual savings.
The Big 6
While we leave “no stone unturned” during our inspections, it’s a good idea for drivers to know and understand the six systems most prone to failure in hot weather:
- Cooling system. More likely to fail than any other mechanical system, typically due to neglect. Flushing is mandatory maintenance for this system because contaminated or sludgy coolant can’t properly cool the engine, leading to overheating.
- Car battery. Summer heat is a bigger killer of batteries than winter cold. Add vibration to the list, too, which can be countered by securely mounting batteries. Car batteries usually last 4 to 5 years. If yours is older than 3, get it tested by your ASE-Certified Star Auto Authority technician, who’ll help determine how much life it has left.
- Ignition system. The insulation surrounding ignition wires and spark plugs often crack and weaken with age, allowing electrical current to stray from its intended path. This situation can lead to engine misfire, rough idling and acceleration hesitation. The problem is compounded by humid or rainy days, which makes it easier for current to stray.
- Tires. Under-inflated tires not only impair handling and braking, they’re prime candidates for highly hazardous blowouts. Hot road temperatures compound the problem.
- Air-conditioning system. Nobody wants to have a sunny day road trip ruined by sweltering cabin temperatures. The A/C system works super-hard to keep a car cool when it’s like an oven outside. If you’ve noticed that even normal-temp days are challenging your A/C, a small leak might be allowing refrigerant to escape.
- Fuel pump. Pumps put out plenty of heat all the time, which is exacerbated on those red-filled thermometer days. To combat this effect, keep your gas tank at least one-quarter full. When the tank dips below that level, not enough fuel is available to cool the pump. It’s also a smart idea to keep the tank as full as possible on vacations in case those directions aren’t quite accurate or you take a wrong turn at Albuquerque.
The last-minute details are: DON’T WAIT TIL THE LAST MINUTE! (Ha, gotcha.)
Seriously, it’s best to schedule your pre-trip inspection at least a week—preferably two—in advance. Should a major concern arise or repair be required, it provides our technicians plenty of time to ensure a repair is completed before you head off into vacationland. Otherwise, you might face the not-so-relaxing choice of driving the vehicle in compromised condition, delaying your trip or driving an alternate vehicle.
You’ll also appreciate the extra lead time so you can test drive your vehicle near home following the repair. This helps ensure all systems truly are “go.” The best technicians can make an occasional mistake and the highest quality parts do fail once in awhile.
Safety. Peace of mind. Star Auto Authority can help you achieve both during your time away.
(Make your trip complete with the right tunes: Check out our list of rad road songs.)
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