Are you ready for a grand adventure? It feels like we have been stuck inside for weeks or maybe even months. Let’s load up the car and go on a road trip this spring! But first, we need to be sure our car will get us there and back. What do we need to do to make sure our vehicle is road trip ready?
First things first, let’s talk fluids. Most vehicles have six fluids to pay attention to.
Most of us already know how important good oil is for your engine, but it never hurts to go over why and when. Let’s talk about what oil does for your engine. There are many moving parts in your engine, such as pistons, a crankshaft, and your camshaft. Most manufacturers recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles; however, since hybrid and synthetic oils are now on the market, some manufacturers recommend an oil service every 7,500 - 10,000 miles. You will want to check your owner’s manual to set a regular schedule for your car or leave it to the experts at John’s Automotive Care, who are happy to service your vehicle and provide service reminders for upcoming recommended oil changes and more.
Be sure to check the dipstick regularly to see the oil condition and fill level in between services.
We all know how hot engines get and that our radiator helps keep it cool and in good working order. Radiator fluid, also known as coolant or antifreeze, helps pull the leat from the engine and runs it through a series of tubes within the radiator. If your coolant level gets low, it can cause your engine to overheat and could even damage your engine. Your radiator should get a coolant flush service every 40,000-50,000 miles to ensure that any debris that gets inside your radiator wont cause a blockage of any type.
Within your brake lines runs brake fluid that becomes pressurized when you depress the brake pedal, compressing the fluid which forces your brake pads to clamp onto the rotors, thus slowing down your vehicle. If there is a spongy sensation when you press on the brake pedal, or if the brake pedal pushes further to the floor, there could be air in your brake lines, or your brake fluid may have become contaminated. The feeling of a spongy brake pedal is most often caused by air in the brake lines, meaning that you will need to have your brakes bled. It is important to check your brake fluid levels to ensure it is topped off, and every 24,000 miles flush the brake system with fresh fluid.
Power Steering Fluid
Power steering is a modern convenience that is now considered essential in a car and helps our vehicle become more responsive to our handling. To keep this system in peak operating condition, you want to check your fluid levels every time you have your vehicle serviced and schedule a flush on this system every 50,000 miles. The capable team at John’s Automotive Care in La Mesa is happy to track your vehicle service and make recommendations for you based on factory specifications for your vehicle when you are too busy to worry about your vehicle systems.
It is an awful feeling when you are driving down the road, and your transmission begins to clunk and feel jerky. Fresh transmission fluid helps gears mesh smoothly and keeps the complex system healthy. When transmission fluid turns, you may experience rough shifting. Fortunately, transmission fluid is long-lasting, and even some vehicles have what is called “lifetime” transmission fluid added from the factory. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or turn to your experts at John’s Automotive Care in La Mesa to determine what type of transmission fluid you have in your vehicle. Recommendations vary from never, to 30,000 miles and up to 100,000 miles for transmission fluid replacements. Because of this wide range, many experts recommend a 60,000-mile fluid change.
Road-tripping is a blast! And seeing out the windshield is paramount to your safety and others. As simple as it sounds, before heading out on a trip, check that your windshield washer fluid is topped off. Windshield washer fluid is easy to find at any gas station or hardware and auto parts store. Before heading out on the road, be sure to grab a bottle and top off your reservoir.
When you start planning your road trip, think tires. Here are some questions to ask. What is the condition of your tires? Is your tread wearing evenly? How is your air pressure? When was the last time you had your tires replaced? - If you are unsure how your tread is doing when it comes to grip and traction, you can take a penny and insert it between the tread; if you see Lincoln’s head, then it is time to think about replacing your tires. When it comes to knowing your air pressure, it is a good rule of thumb to check it every 1,000 miles. It is a nice round number and about the right time for an air pressure check. Did you know you can save money by ensuring your tires are properly inflated? Not only can you extend the lifespan of your tires, but you can also use less fuel by having your tires properly inflated. Also, note that big fluctuations in temperature will affect your tire pressure. Regular tire rotations are important to extending the life of your tires as well. A good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 5,000-8,000 miles. The reason for this is that road conditions vary, and weight balance, suspension calibration, driving habits, and road conditions make tires wear at different rates. Switching around your tires from front to back and side to side can help even out the tire wear.
Brake pads are wear parts designed to use friction to slow down your vehicle. These pads wear away over time, and when they get too thin, they don’t stop your car as well as they should. When your brake pads wear down, they make a terrible screeching or squealing noise; this is usually somewhere between every 25,000 to 75,000 miles. This indicates that it is time to replace these worn parts to keep your stopping ability at peak performance. One added bonus for replacing your brake pads before they get too thin is that you shouldn’t need to replace the rotors or calipers as often.
It gets dusty out there, and air filters are our first line of defense when it comes to breathing clean air. This goes for your engine too. Cars need spark, air, fuel & combustion. Air is 25% of the equation. Just like us, vehicles need good clean air in order to run at peak performance. When air filters become clogged, they impact fuel economy and our breathing air quality. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every 10,000- 15,000 miles. Luckily they are inexpensive parts and easy to change.
Good working headlamps, taillamps & blinkers not only keep you safe on the road, but they also help you fly under the radar when it comes to police patrolling the roadways. It is important to check your lights regularly. One way to do this yourself is to put your vehicle in park, switch your headlamps on and turn on your flashers. When it comes to checking your brake lights, you will need a heavy object to weigh down the brake pedal and then walk around your car to see if your brake lights are shining brightly.
Belts and Hoses
After popping your hood, do you wonder what it is that you are looking for? This is where an expert’s eye comes in handy. The team at John’s Automotive Care knows what to look for and gives every vehicle that comes through the shop a thorough multi-point inspection, giving owners peace of mind and assurance that their vehicle is road-worthy. Belts can be tricky; you want them tight but not too tight. If there are any teeth that are missing, or if there is any cracking or fraying, the belt needs replacement. Hoses are important to inspect as well; if there is a fluid leak, it could be an indication of a hose gone bad. No one wants to be left stranded on the side of the road, so be sure to get a thorough inspection of your vehicle at regular intervals.
When you are ready to head out on a grand adventure before you get all packed up, take the time to clean out your car; not only will it feel great when you are underway, your vehicle will thank you. So, take the time to gut all unnecessary items from your vehicle, shake out your floor mats and give your car a good wipe-down, vacuum, and wash. Next up, you will be ready to prep and organize for your upcoming adventure. How are your cupholders holding up? Do you have enough power cords for everyone’s phones? How about a trash bin? By keeping on top of your vehicle maintenance and organization, you are sure to make your adventure a fantastic event.
If you don’t feel confident giving your vehicle a pre-trip inspection, visit us at John’s Automotive Care in La Mesa. We are here to help you with all of your auto repair needs! Call us today or online, so we can take great care of you and your vehicle with our expert ASE Certified auto mechanics. We look forward to seeing you soon!