BDR Automotive

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1605 Washington St

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Prepare your Vehicle for Summer Travel
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BDR Automotive

Prepare your Vehicle for Summer Travel

Road Trip! 

According to a Harris Poll, 80% of participants said that going on a road trip has been one of their happiest moments since the  COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half said they traveled to a place they’d never been to before. Before heading out on your next road trip this summer, use this handy checklist to help you prepare your vehicle for summer travel.

Prepare your Vehicle for Summer: Tires

Check tires for wear.

Take a close look at your tires for cuts, gouges or bulges in the sidewalls. Check the tire tread by inserting a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington’s head, it is time for new tires. Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well. 

Check tire pressure.

When the car has been idle and the tires are cool, check the pressure with a tire gauge. Check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure (which can be found in the owner’s manual or on the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb. Inflate the tires to this number (not the one listed on the tire itself.) Recheck the tire pressure every 1000 miles or more often if the vehicle is heavily loaded or towing a trailer.

Rotate your tires.

The wheels that receive power wear tires more quickly than non-drive-wheel tires. Rotating tires moves them from front-to-back or side-to-side, promoting even wear. The proper rotation pattern for your car is found in the owner’s manual. (This should be done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles or sooner if uneven tread wear is observed.)

Check Oil and Fluid Levels

Engine Oil

Some new vehicles come with a factory oil-change recommendation of up to 10,000 miles, but engine oil levels should be checked every 3,000 miles. Today engine oil contains additives that enhance lubrication and help to keep the system clean. Your owner’s manual will define the type of oil to be used and how often it should be changed. 

Transmission fluid

Many new vehicles come with sealed transmissions that do not allow for easy checking or topping off the fluid. If your vehicle has a transmission dipstick, check the fluid level regularly and replace it according to the specifications in your owner’s manual. If the transmission is sealed, speak to your auto mechanic at appropriate service intervals.

Power steering fluid

Power steering systems use a fluid that can become contaminated over time, impeding performance and potentially causing leaks or damage to system components. Note that electric power steering may not use fluid.

Brake fluid

Your braking system uses fluid to build hydraulic pressure to force the calipers to damp the brake pads down onto the rotors. If the brake pedal begins to feel spongy or soft, air may have accumulated in the brake lines, which may require a service to “bleed the lines.” Brake fluid can get contaminated and absorb moisture, which can reduce performance. Service should be performed approximately every 24,000 miles, but if you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, see your auto mechanic for a brake inspection.

Coolant

Also referred to as anti-freeze, engine coolant is nearly as important as motor oil. Coolant keeps engine temperatures down in the summer, but also helps the engine maintain the optimum operating temperature in the winter. Low coolant can cause overheating.

Like motor oil, coolant is fortified with additives that increase performance and inhibit corrosion. Most vehicles have a tank under the hood with a visual inspection “window” to check the level. Never attempt to check engine coolant when the vehicle is hot or warm. If the level is low or the coolant is compromised, see your service professional.

Air Filter

Most vehicles have two types of air filters. The engine air filter provides debris-free air to the engine and the cabin air filter cleans the incoming air to the passenger area. Both filters should be changed regularly. See the owner’s manual for the suggested timeline. A good rule of thumb is every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

Battery

Be sure your battery cable connections are clean and tight and that the hardware to hold the battery in place is secure. If your battery connections are sealed (as in some new batteries), have a service professional do a battery check to determine remaining capacity. 

Prepare your Vehicle for Summer: Windshield Wipers

Windshield wiper fluid

Your vehicle may have a warning light to indicate that the wiper fluid is low. The reservoir should have a blue lid and is located in an easily visible place under the hood so you can check and fill. 

Wiper blades

Rubber naturally deteriorates over time. If your wipers streak or do not clean your windshield thoroughly, replace the blades. Don’t forget the rear window wiper, if you have one.

Belts and Hoses

Rubber drive belts

These power the engine water pump, alternator, and air conditioning compressor. Have your service professional inspect and replace any that are cracked, glazed, or frayed. Modern ribbed serpentine belts do not always show visible signs of wear. It is suggested that drive belts be changed every 60,000 miles.

Radiator hoses

Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump. Replace any worn, brittle, bulging, or excessively soft radiator hoses.

Air Conditioner

Take a test ride with the AC running. If you notice that it isn’t cooling as well as you would like, take the vehicle to your auto mechanic for a diagnosis.

Lighting

Be sure to check your vehicle’s exterior lights to be sure they are working at an optimal level. Check the multiple bulbs inside the vehicle, including the interior overhead lighting and inside door lights. 

Emergency Kit

Replenish emergency kit supplies. Be sure to check the flashlight batteries, first-aid items. Keep drinking water and non-perishable snacks for both people and pets. Include car battery booster cables, flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves, and rags or paper towels. (Read our blog on what to put into an emergency kit for your car.)

Last, but Not Least: Clean Your Vehicle

Lastly, make sure you wash and vacuum your vehicle and remove all the excess “stuff” in your trunk. This provides better fuel economy resulting from a lighter overall weight. You’ll feel better hitting the road in a well-maintained, tidy, and ship-shape vehicle! 

If you have questions or would like guidance about getting your vehicle ready for summer, contact us at BDR Automotive at 508-429-4720 or send us an email.

Jarred McGee
Jarred is not only an amazingly competent and capable technician, he is a confident leader and source of incredible knowledge. Known for being a tireless and dedicated technician, he is always friendly and professional, always willing to go the extra mile to ensure BDR customers leave with peace of mind about their vehicle. Jarred attended Mass Bay Community College where he earned his Associates Degree in Automotive Technology. He went on to receive a Toyota T-TEN Certificate while working in Toyota’s dealership system. Jarred has also worked at an auto-body repair shop that specialized in complex high-end vehicles such as the Tesla.

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