It’s been a long winter. And not just in the normal sense of folks getting cabin fever as they eagerly anticipate summer – and with it their annual summer road trip.
We’ve all been cooped up and socially distancing in hopes of resuming some sort of normalcy soon. For many, part of that normalcy is getting highway-bound on a summer road trip. The sights, sounds and wind in your hair carry a sense of freedom that can only be found on the open road.
Summer road trip prep list
Since we have a little more time on our hands, now is a great time to prep for and plan your ideal summer road-trip adventure. After being homebound for so long, the last thing you’ll want is to become stranded alongside the highway wishing you had prepared better.
Check out the tips below, then head to the garage or driveway to get your ride as ready as you are for the road ahead.
Where the rubber meets the road
How are those tires looking after the winter? Check out the tread wear with a tire gauge to see what you’re working with.
Book a tire rotation appointment to prevent uneven tread wear. Or do it yourself. Low or no tread spells trouble down the (actual) road, so take the leap on new tires now if you must.
Check tire psi and ensure your valve stem caps are secure. Inexpensive replacements are available if any are loose or missing.
Change your oil and filters
We might be partial to this maintenance task, but that’s because we know how important oil is to your engine.
Without regular oil changes, you won’t be going anywhere before long. You have many options when it comes to oil, but a high-quality synthetic is your best bet.
AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil delivers protection for up to 25,000 miles/12 months with proven wear protection, keeping you on the road no matter how long the summer road trip.
While you’re at it, change the air filter, too. The dusty roads and highways ahead won’t be able to stop you.
Antifreeze keeps your ride a-breeze
This one is extra important. Your engine will get hot as the miles pass, and you don’t want to overheat and roll to a dead stop far from home.
Ensure your cooling system is up to par. If you don’t know which type of antifreeze and engine coolant to use, check the owner’s manual or the AMSOIL Product Guide. Make sure the engine is cool before opening the reservoir cap; never do so when the engine is hot.
Fill to the max line or do a full flush if it’s due. If you run into sludge, flush the cooling system and never again consider using the low-cost “green” coolant that likely caused the problem. Here’s more on that.
Check those fluids
Your vehicle relies on a few other important fluids, and failure of any one of them can ruin, not only your trip, but your mood.
All need to be at appropriate levels to effectively keep your summer road trip moving along. Check the levels for each to identify leaks or change fluids if necessary.
Speaking of brakes…
It goes without saying, but if you notice even a slight amount of sponginess, grinding or delayed brake reaction, it’s time to change your pads and maybe even the rotors. Schedule a brake service with a mechanic if you’re uncomfortable doing the work yourself.
Check belts, hoses and fuses
While you’re under the hood, check all the hoses around the radiator for cracks or damage. Check the serpentine belt, too.
Now’s the time to replace worn parts, not as semis are driving by at 70 mph while you’re alongside the highway.
An inexpensive fuse tester identifies bad fuses so you can easily tell which need replacing.
The life stage of your battery
When’s the last time you changed your battery? Typical battery life is between 2-5 years, and they often give little-to-no warning before they lose their juice.
Many auto parts stores offer free battery testing, so you can gauge whether you’re due for a replacement.
Let there be light – and a clear view
Invest in high-quality headlight bulbs to light your way.
This blogger once had a vehicle with such low-quality bulbs that rolling with the high beams never received even a single flash from oncoming vehicles. Once upgraded, it was almost a literal difference between night and day.
Check your brake lights, too. You don’t want law enforcement being the ones to stop and tell you they’re out. Bring some spares in case you need one along the way.
Fill up your windshield washer fluid reservoir and change the wiper blades if they’re starting to show wear. You’ll thank yourself for conducting this easy upgrade as you travel through rainy or dusty stretches.
Prepare a roadside tool kit
In the unfortunate event your best-laid summer-road-trip plans go awry, make sure you have some tools on hand to get you back on the road quickly.
Carry a flashlight, tow rope, portable battery charger, bungee cords, screw drivers and wrenches.
Inexpensive emergency-hazard triangles are available online that simply unfold for easy set up behind your stalled vehicle. Their reflective material alert oncoming traffic to your roadside predicament and help keep you safe.
An old-fashioned map will also serve you well should you find yourself with a dead cellphone battery at any point.
Gas up and get ready to go
We’ve enjoyed lower gas prices in recent weeks, so even though you may not be driving very much right now, it’s a good time to keep your tank full.
Throw in a bottle of AMSOIL P.i.® Performance Improver to clean your fuel system and improve fuel mileage up to 5.7%.
Now that your vehicle is in prime road-trip condition, the open road awaits. Where will you go? Whether you’re headed east, west, north or south, a lifetime of memories lies just ahead.