With spring underway and any car Spring Car Cleaning and (hopefully!) Spring Car Maintenance check points completed, you might be feeling like it’s time for a road trip. There’s nothing better than a weekend (or week) away from it all, to complete the rebirth and renewal process of spring.
Whether you’re planning a getaway up in the mountains, or down in Santa Fe, by following a few pre-trip inspection points on your vehicle, you can save yourself some Time – by avoiding surprise maintenance issues; and Money – for the same reason, and also by ensuring tip-top gas mileage.
And now, with a drum roll (or hands drumming on the dashboard roll), our Pre-Road Trip Checklist:
* Tire Inflation. The old thumb pressure into the wall of a tire works well in the movies – but in real life, you want to keep your tires inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation as listed in your driver side door jam, the glove compartment or, of course, your maintenance manual. If you want a risk of improper inflation, just pick one: Decreased traction, Increased tire wear, Tire damage, and Poor gas mileage. To avoid all of that, keep your pounds per square inch (PSI) on the straight and narrow by checking your Cold Tire Pressure (the car has not been driven for 30 minutes, although ideally in the morning before starting the car for the first time) once per month. Also keep in mind that even properly functioning tires will ‘naturally’ lose 1 PSI per month; and for every 10-degree F change in ambient temperature, your tires lose or gain 1 PSI.
* Tire Tread. Now that you’ve got the inflation just right, how about that tread depth? While many drivers have delayed new tire purchases to save some money, you need to be sure your treads are at a safe level. The lower the tread, the less traction on wet roads, and the greater the distance needed to stop. While the absolute legal minimum is any depth greater than 2/32”, you might want to have your mechanic take a look and also describe the trip/destination you will be taking. As a matter of reference, if you insert an upside down penny into your tread, if Lincoln’s head shows entirely your depth is less than 2/32” and therefore legally undriveable. Also be prepared for snow chain requirements that could be activated during your trip. If you have snow tires on your vehicle, this may suffice; although in severe conditions chains can be required regardless of whether you have snow tires.
* Help Your Engine Breathe. A quick check of your engine air filter before embarking on a trip can serve you well, particularly after months of winter driving during which salt, sand and other impurities have accumulated in the filtration system. Clean air helps your engine run more efficiently, and can actually give acceleration times 10 percent greater than an engine running on an old air filter.
* Cleaner and Meaner. Besides drawing neck turns and compliments from fellow travelers on the shiny and clean appearance of your vehicle, a little washing and wiping will help remove accumulated chemicals and dirt that can attack your car’s finish and undercarriage. Ask your mechanic or auto supply store for a recommendation on quality cleaners.
Your Golden Triangle Auto Care technicians are standing by for your call whenever we can help with maintenance items you can’t take care of yourself – leave the dirty work to us! Call or book your next appointment on line today.