Tools and Tips - Preparing your car for a Road Trip
Car breakdowns are very peculiar, it comes mostly when you are really in a hurry. Your vehicle going on a strike is the last thing you want when you are rushing to an important sales meeting or when you are already late for a flight! Knowledge about a few simple maintenance tips will avoid such situations and keep your car ready to take you to your destinations. Here are some easy steps that you can follow every week so that you are not thrusted with unwanted surprises from your best pal!
1. Air-Conditioning System
We might have to agree that car can run without gas (Thanks to Tesla, now in UAE!) but not an A/C. Now's the time to get serious as the mercury is on an uphill drive. Leaking of refrigerant is a common issue with older systems; it would be a good idea to have your mechanic check for any leaks and fix it before directly recharging your air-conditioning system when you feel that the cooling is inadequate.
Tires should be checked regularly all year round. A safe and well-maintained tire is paramount for your road safety. Be aware of the optimum pressure for your tires (consult the manual because sometimes that information is on the inside of the fuel door or the door jamb for the driver's door). Both over pressuring and under pressuring is not recommended, the treads should be free of stones, stray nails, and likes. More importantly, all four wheels should be in good condition. Good condition means no cracks, no uneven wear (this might be caused by a suspension problem) and plenty of tread depth change the wheel comfortably. Ensure that your spares are usable at all times.
3. Coolant System
Keeping cool is essential, not just for ourselves but also for our cars! In addition to checking the level of coolant fluid in your car, it would be a great idea to check the state of your hoses and coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, like the point where a hose connects to the engine block. Check the condition of hoses by mildly squeezing it to ensure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft.
4. Other Essential Fluids
Ensure you conduct a periodical check on oil, brake, power steering and windshield washer fluids. These liquids never stop being used and consumed. Speaking of brake fluid, how do your car brakes feel in general? Are they lacking in bite? Feeling a bit spongy? If so, new pads, a brake oil bleed and replacement might be required. This is the kind of maintenance you should have your mechanic or dealership take care of.
5. Air Filter
Check your Air Filter every 6 months to improve fuel economy and keep your engine running smoothly.
It is hard to give a specific time or mileage figure to do this because the life of the filter depends on how much crud it ingests based on your driving conditions. Changing it annually or for every 20,000 KMs for preventative maintenance may be a good recommendation for the city driver. A cloggy air filter will reduce the air intake and thus decreases the efficiency and smoothness of your engine. Trying to shake or blow the dirt out is a waste of time because too much of it will be embedded in the filter fibers.
6. Engine Belts
There is usually a serpentine belt that runs between the alternator, the fan, and several other components. It can deteriorate, become loose, start to squeak, and sometimes even break for no apparent reason. It needs to be in good condition and at the right amount of tension. If you see cracks in the belt or small pieces missing, it is time to replace the belt.
A car is just like a member of our family, a very important one too. Following a few basic steps can help us ensure a smoother run for our four-wheeled companion. Love your car and you can feel it warming up more to you. Cheers for your next drive!
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