A historic period of uncertainty, finally on its way out. With the reopening of the state of California upon us and the built up frustration from stay-at-home orders set back in March of 2020, many Americans are expected to travel up to 500 miles from their homes this summer via road trips as a way to help wash away the stagnant year we all never saw coming.
California families have been juggling a handful of “from home” routines, from distance learning to working from home and everything in between for nearly 16 months now. So with little ones out of school for their summer vacation and recent high school and college graduates (congratulations!), this summer season is going to be one we will all appreciate for years to come.
To help our members and community prepare for upcoming travel we came up with a list of things to prepare you for an easy-going road trip (or two or three).
The summer heat influences a handful of important components with your vehicle—air conditioner, tires, oil, battery, fuel, coolant and even your wiper blades. Keep this heat factor in mind while reading over this blog post.
Vehicle Road Trip Reminders
Check Your Fluids
According to AAA you should be checking your vehicle's fluids more often than the dealer's recommended amount, with consistent monitoring you will have a better idea of when your vehicle's fluids need to be topped off.
Oil - When was the last time you had an oil and oil filter change? New vehicles require an oil change every 5,000 miles or every 6 months, while “older” vehicles require an oil change every 3,000 or 3 months. Know the life of your oil and if it can endure a road trip at the distance you plan on covering. There are plenty of recommendations from each of the many auto makers out there. Make sure you are aware of your specific vehicle’s recommendations for an oil change service.
Brake Fluid – Do you remember the last time you changed your brakes, let alone the brake fluid? Brake fluid is used every time you press on your brake pedal and it is generally recommended to flush your brake fluids every 30,000 miles or 2 years.
Anti-Freeze/Coolant/Radiator Fluid – This summer is due to be a hot one. On top of staying hydrated, drivers need to make sure their vehicles coolant is topped off to prevent radiators from overheating and leaving you stranded.
Wiper Fluid/Blades – A windshield full of bugs is bound to happen and who knows what other muck gets on there. Go over your wipers and windshield to clear any debris that may be lurking on the base of your wiper blades as well as the wiper blades themselves. There are occurrences when debris clings to the blades themselves and scratches your windshield. This can also happen from old and worn wiper blades. The metal design which presses the blades down to your car could be exposed and leave “streaks” or scratches on your windshield. Due to excessive heat, you can prevent the rubber blade from melting onto your windshield by leaving them in the standing up maintenance/wash position.
Transmission Fluid – Do you know the status of your transmission? What about transmission fluid? If your vehicle has been jerking when you accelerate or leaving a burning smell, it may be best to get your vehicle looked at by a professional and maybe even using a different vehicle for your road trip.
Check Your Vehicle's Belts
- Serpentine Belt
- Drive Belt/ V Belt
- Timing Belt
- Accessory Belt
Check Your Vehicle's Hoses
- Low Pressure Fuel hose
- High Pressure Fuel hose
- Radiator hose
- Heater Hose
- Power Steering hose
- Hydraulic Hose
- A/C Hose
- Vacuum Hose
Check Your Tires and Tire Tread
Do you remember when you last changed your tires? Look over your wheels for any signs of tears or for any foreign objects such as screws that may compromise your wheel’s integrity. If it’s been a few years since your tires have been changed or even rotated them, then it wouldn’t hurt to check the tread life of all four of your vehicle’s tires.
You Can Easily Do This With A Penny
- place a penny into a groove with the side of Abraham Lincoln’s portrait facing you
- Rotate the penny so the top of Abe’s head is touching the surface of your tire
- Based on how much of Abraham Lincoln’s head you are able to see, will determine if you should change your tires. If you are able to see his head, it is time to change your tires right away.
Check Your Battery
Go over your battery’s connections to make sure they are clear of any debris or battery corrosion and ensure your battery is fastened securely to your vehicle. You can always visit an auto parts store for a free battery test to provide an accurate reading of your battery’s overall life.
Emergency Roadside Kit SuppliesTo make unexpected roadside situations easier to bear with, you should consider carrying the following items in your vehicle:
- Emergency contact info
- Insurance/registration information
- Reliable tow company information
- Spare tire that is inflated to its specified pound per square inch (psi)
- Lug nut lock key
- Lug nut wrench
- Reliable Jack stand Kit(make sure to get one that is strong enough for your vehicle)
- Car escape tools/Pocket knives (seat belt cutter/glass breaker)
- Jumper cables
- Basic assortment of tools to operate on your vehicle
- A change of clothes
- Flashlight(s) with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Nonperishable foods
- Can opener
- Phone charging cable(s) AND wall plug
- Safety vest and hazard reflective roadside triangles (set of 3). Place the first triangle 10 feet behind your vehicle, the second triangle 100 feet behind your vehicle and the final triangle, 300 feet from your vehicle. All reflective triangles should be on the side closest to oncoming traffic.
There are many variables that need to work together efficiently in order have a car running smoothly and unless you managed to grab a new auto during the microchip/parts shortage this last year, best to take all preventative steps available to ensure a safe and memorable road trip.
Get out and explore this summer. A Personal Loan from SafeAmerica Credit Union can help make it happen – and the funds can be used for just about anything, including road trips!
We want to help you make memories. Act now to receive a free AAA membership with your new Personal Loan. AAA offers travel services, discounts and insurance, road-side assistance and more!
- “Quick Tips For Checking Your Vehicle's Fluids,” AAA (blog), accessed July 7, 2021, https://www.aaa.com/autorepair/articles/quick-tips-for-checking-vehicle-fluids
- “Get Your Vehicle Check During AAA Car Care Month,” AAA (blog), October 9, 2013, accessed July 7, 2021, http://news.aaa-calif.com/news/get-a-vehicle-check-during-aaa-car-care-month
- "Tire Tread Depth" Firestone (blog), accessed July 7, 2021, https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/penny-tire-test/
- "How To Test A Car Battery At Home with (No Equipment)" (blog), October 23, 2018, accessed July 7, 2021, https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/blog/batteries/how-to-test-car-battery-at-home/
- "The Best Gear For A Roadside Emergency" (blog) May 18, 2021, accessed July 8, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-gear-for-a-roadside-emergency/
- "Know-How Notes: All About Hoses" (blog), accessed July 8 2021, https://knowhow.napaonline.com/know-notes-hoses/