Car Maintenance Basics for Summer Road Trips
Our Ford Service Center Can Help You Keep Your Vehicle on the Road
The summer road trip is a family rite of passage and a guaranteed memory-maker. Road trips can take you almost anywhere to do almost anything. But there is one limitation: you need a car that’s safe to operate and carry your family to your destination.
Know the Signs of Overheating
Engines overheat for a range of reasons, including broken fans or blown head gaskets, and problems with your car’s radiator and cooling systems. It can be a big problem.
When your engine overheats, the pistons that power your car expand and stop moving in the cylinders. If you keep driving with your engine like this, you could crack your engine block and cylinder heads. The fix is not cheap, so be aware of the signs that come before a full-on engine overheating issue.
Warning signs of engine overheating include:
- Excessively hot hood. You should be able to touch the hood of your vehicle for 10 seconds without burning. If this isn’t the case, your engine is too warm.
- The temperature gauge on your dashboard maxes out. However, if your issue is a coolant leak, this gauge might not be properly functioning.
- Audible ticking noise under the hood, which is the result of a lack of lubrication on your engine’s moving parts.
- Thumping noises, which are the result of cold coolant coming in contact with very hot coolant.
- Coolant leaks, which you can see pooling under your parked vehicle.
- Smell of burning oil or rubber, or a sweet smell.
- Sense of reduced engine power or “lagging.”
- Steam billowing from your hood. This steam is coolant that has reached its boiling point.
Learn How to Change a Tire
Knowing how to change a tire when you get a flat is one of the most important roadside skills you can acquire. Chances are high that you’ll need to use this knowledge at least once in your lifetime. Follow these steps for a successful tire change.
- Loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove your wheel cover first. Turn the lug nuts counterclockwise to loosen them. Do not fully remove them!
- Use your jack to lift your vehicle. Consult your car’s owner’s manual to find out where you should place the jack so as not to damage your vehicle.
- Remove the lug nuts. Keep them in a safe spot, since you’ll need them again.
- Pull the tire directly toward your body. It should come off quite easily.
- Place your spare tire on your car’s wheelbase. Push your spare as far onto it as possible.
- Replace the lug nuts, and tighten them part of the way, so that the tire is lined up evenly on the wheelbase.
- Lower the jack until your spare tire touches the ground, but isn’t bearing the full weight of your vehicle.
- Begin tightening the lug nuts in increments, alternating every other nut.
- Lower your vehicle completely onto the ground.
- Continue tightening the lug nuts until they no longer move.
Check Your Fluid Levels
Before you take off on a road trip, it’s wise to check your vehicle’s fuel levels: transmission fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, and oil.
During the summer, coolant is especially important, because you need it to keep your vehicle from overheating.
When you bring your car into our Ford Quick Lane for an oil change, our technicians will check your fluid levels and top them off, if necessary. In fact, getting an oil change before taking off on a road trip – if your vehicle is due or will soon be – is a good idea in general.
Check the Air Pressure in Your Tires at a Tire Service Center
Outside air temperature affects the pressure in your tires. Check the air pressure in them before you head down the road on your summer vacation trip, and don’t forget about your spare tire, too.
To determine the PSI your tires should be, check the sidewall of your tires and your owner’s manual. Low tire pressure can cause uneven wear and unsafe driving conditions.
If you’re unsure how to check your tire pressure, visit the tire service center at Zeck Ford in Leavenworth, Kansas, for expert help.
Check Your Battery
Summer heat hastens the oxidation of battery components. In fact, car batteries are most likely to fail because of heat!
Look over your battery for signs of oxidation, that white, crusty buildup on the terminals. You can get your battery tested at the Zeck Ford service center, which will give you the information you need to plan ahead for replacing your battery.
Get a Professional Brake Inspection
Faulty brakes are dangerous. Not being able to stop and feeling your brake pedal hit the floor while you’re driving are terrible experiences, which is why it’s important to have your brakes inspected by an expert before you take a long road trip – and regularly throughout the year.
Shop for Used Cars or New Cars for Sale Before Your Trip
If your current vehicle isn’t up for making a road trip and you’re worried it won’t last through your journey, it’s the perfect time to shop for a new vehicle or new-to-you ride at the Ford dealership near you, Zeck Ford.
A reputable used car dealership carefully vets and inspects every vehicle on the lot. Zeck Ford’s extensive inspections guarantee that only quality vehicles are available for sale. And if you prefer to buy a new car, we have those, too!