We’re planning a one-week vacation to the mountains by car. How do we best prepare our vehicle for the trip to a remote area?
Great question. Sometimes people overlook the importance of preparing for a summer road trip. We tend to prepare better for snow and ice than we do for driving in warm temperatures! No one wants their vacation interrupted with a breakdown on the road, potentially in warm temperatures with spotty cell coverage.
Get your vehicle checked out in advance. This appointment should be a relatively low-cost service appointment; especially if you have been keeping up with regular vehicle maintenance. Jaffarian’s Service Department is open six days a week for your convenience and appointments can be made by phone or on-line 24/7.
To prepare for summer travel, ask that the following are checked during this service appointment:
1. Tires —Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure not only improves fuel economy, but it also ensures that your car will handle optimally in any emergency maneuvers. I’ve mentioned in quite a few blogs to do the “penny test” to check for wear, but better still, have them professionally checked by a technician. The new theory is the quarter is the “new” penny, according to Car and Driver!
2. Cooling and air conditioning systems—The main cause of breakdowns is related to coolant problems and engines overheating. So before you start your tip, be sure to clean out any leaves, pine needles or other debris that might have accumulated in the fins of the radiator and the air conditioning condenser. Checking your vehicle’s radiator cap is also a good idea and should generally be replaced if it is more than five years old. Given the temperatures to which the radiator cap is continually exposed, its internal rubber gasket can end up cracked, deformed, damaged or simply hardened, and the cap’s metal spring also weakens over time. Learn which antifreeze or coolant is the best for your vehicle, which should be last for approximately 2-5 years, depending on the age and type of vehicle you drive. Many newer vehicles now utilize an extended life (orange) coolant that needs to be serviced approximately every five years.
3. Oil — Depending on the age and model of your vehicle. Older models generally require oil changes every 3-5,000 miles and most new models require oil changes from 5-10,000 miles. Most of the new vehicles also have electronic sensors to let you know when an oil charge is due. It is also important to note the weight/viscosity of oil required by your vehicle’s owner manual. Between changes, be sure to check the oil level on a monthly basis, adding fresh oil whenever necessary.
4. Gas cap— It is a critical component of your car’s emission control system, and if it isn’t airtight it will trigger “check engine” or “emissions service” lights on your dashboard. This is probably one item no one thinks about. Also, check the gasket around the gas cap every time you fill up to ensure that it has no cracks or other damage. If you notice anything amiss, replace it.
5. Lighting and visibility—Check your headlights to make sure they all work and that there are no hidden wiring problems. Check to make sure that there is no corrosion on the terminals of the car’s battery, too: Many electrical-system issues can be avoided simply by keeping the battery terminals and connections clean and tight.
6. Wipers – Replace worn wipers with a fresh set, and check to make sure that the every washer-fluid reservoir in the car is full. Fluids are checked with an oil change.
7. Brakes, hoses and belts.
Unless this is your area of expertise, I suggest you get your vehicle ready for summer vacation with a a competent, trusted technician with years of experience. Quality service and ongoing regular maintenance will save you over time including the frustration of a vacation interrupted with car issues. Come to Jaffarian Volvo Toyota’s Service Department where our technicians are certified and work in comfortable air conditioned surroundings so they can focus on your vehicle and not be distracted by working in the heat!
Before you head out on a summer road trip, make sure you have a first aid kit and general supplies.
What to have in your first-aid kit?
• A waterproof case (moisture can damage many of your supplies)
• Sanitizing wipes to clean your hands before attending to the person in need
• Latex gloves to prevent the spread of infection
• Antiseptic towelettes to clean out scrapes and cuts
• Neosporin or other cream to prevent infection
• Bandages of all sizes including band-aids, gauze, and adhesive tape for cuts and blisters
• Tweezers and a sterile needle for splinters
• Instant ice packs for inflammation
• Cotton balls and cotton swabs
• Saline solution to clean out eyes
• Small doses of over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Pepto-Bismol tablets, Dramamine, and Benadryl for allergic reactions
• Include children’s versions of the above, if applicable – such as baby and children’s pain relievers, prescribed medications, Benadryl spray, a syringe or medicine cup for administering medications, and baby wipes
• Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and bug bites
Note: Be sure to check expiration dates. If you have a kit that hasn’t been used all year, you may need to replace several items. Consider buying a kit at your local drug store once a year that has fresh supplies and is usually more cost-effective than buying all items separately.
As you pack for summer vacation, don’t forget the following.
• Bug spray to prevent bites
• Sunscreen to prevent burns
• Aloe gel to help soothe a sunburn
• Ear drops such as Aqua Ear or Swim Ear, sold without a prescription, can help prevent the infection swimmer’s ear (but talk to your doctor first, especially if you’re prone to the problem).
• Personal medications that your family may need for allergies or medical conditions: baby products, allergy and asthma medications, diabetes and heart medications, motion sickness medication, and an Epi-Pen for those who have life-threatening allergies
• First aid manual if you have one but your Smart Phone can give you the answers for treatment also
• Water and snacks
• Sunglasses to protect your eyes
If you’re bringing your dog, don’t forget the food, water bowl and flea & tick medication or any other medication.
Have a wonderful trip and drive safely! Share your photos of your road trip with us on Instagram or Facebook Let the season of road trips begin!