Summer is nearly synonymous with road trips.
Unfortunately that often means driving your car or SUV long distances through less-than-optimal conditions.
Driving through extreme conditions is hard on your vehicle, whether you are driving through sub-zero temperatures or across a surface seemingly as scorching as the sun. With a little advance preparation, however, you can make sure your summer road trip is as comfortable and safe as possible.
Here are some hot weather driving tips to think about:
- Check your fluids. Make sure your coolant, transmission, brake, power steering and window washing fluid are topped off. Also, make sure your oil is clean and within the acceptable levels. If you’re planning a long road trip, it’s a good idea to get an oil change before you leave; technicians will check all your fluids for you.
- Inspect your hoses and belts. Look them over to see if they’re dry and cracked and test them to ensure they’re tight. This can also be accomplished during an oil change visit.
- Check your battery. Extreme heat can drain a battery as easily as extreme cold.
- Check your tires. Tire pressure fluctuates with the temperature—it’s just basic chemistry. Properly-inflated tires will improve your fuel efficiency, leaving you more money to spend on the fun parts of your vacation.
- Check your air-conditioning. Vehicles absorb heat like greenhouses. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a hot box for a long period of time.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car. Keep some water, jumper cables and a flashlight in your car as a bare minimum. Also consider a first-aid kit, some non-perishable food items. Even if you take precautions and maintain your vehicle properly, accidents can happen.
- Take your time. Drive slowly during extreme heat, the same way you would in cold, inclement conditions. Your engine is already working harder than it otherwise would; there’s no need to push it even further by trying to save a few minutes.
Driving in extreme heat is unavoidable for many people. With the proper maintenance and a little forethought, you can weather the heat and arrive at your destination comfortable and safe.
Most people wash their cars when they get covered in mud, grime or salt—or if they attract the attention of a passing flock of birds.
When it comes to regular car washes, however, many of us miss the mark. That’s unfortunate, because having your car washed regularly is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to protect your vehicle, yourself and your investment.
There are several reasons to get a weekly or bi-weekly car wash, even if you’re driving through city streets and under bird-free skies. Here are
- It protects your paint. A regular wash and wax will protect our car’s paint, not wear it down. The fact is that the dirt that vehicles gather as they move about—even over seemingly dry, clean roads—can be very damaging if left to bake onto a surface.
- It increases fuel efficiency. Believe it or not, dirt will slow you down and cause wind resistance on an otherwise slick surface. You may not think it makes a significant impact, but any automotive engineer will tell you otherwise. Over time, the increased drag of dirt or other residue will impact your aerodynamics. Studies have shown it can decrease efficiency by as much as 10 percent. Consider the swimmer, who shaves excess body hair, or cyclists—there’s a reason they wear those slick, silly shorts.
- It protects your body. Dirt, salt and grime will not only hurt your paint, it could damage your underbody, frame and engine. Add a semi-regular engine wash with your regular car washes to protect your motor.
- It improves safety. Dirt and debris can build up on your windows, impacting your ability to see and causing damage to your wiper blades. Even at moderate speeds, a blotch or smear can cause a dangerous blind spot.
- It shows pride in your vehicle. Clean cars look newer and better cared for. A regular car wash will also help you make a better first impression at work and while socializing.
- It will improve the resale value, particularly if you sell the car to a private party, rather than training it in to a dealer. If a perspective buyer thinks the car is well-maintained—as evidenced by a regular car wash, he or she will be more likely to meet your asking price.
- It can help keep you healthy. We spend a lot of time in our cars—and so do our germs. Think about every you sneeze or cough behind the wheel and then multiply it by the number of times you’re out interacting with the public and trailing their germs back to your driver’s seat. A regular disinfectant along with your car wash can kill those germs and keep you sniffle-free.
It’s just as important to keep your car looking good as it is to keep it running good and driving straight. Add a weekly or bi-weekly car wash to your maintenance schedule. It’s a relatively small investment that can pay large dividends in the long run.