By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®
Are you ready for a season of summer road trips? Before you hit the road, follow these 5 simple tips by Lauren Fix, The Car Coach to assess, repair and equip your vehicle–and save money too!
Tip #1 – Do It Yourself – Save Money
Now that summer has arrived, you’ve probably made regular trips to a home improvement store for your home and garden needs. If you’re a serious DIYer, it’s also the perfect time to purchase products you will need for your next brake job, such as brake cleaners, which are formulated to quickly and effectively remove brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants from brake parts, lining and pads. CRC Brakleen degreases instantly – and is instantly dry. It really does magic! No work involved, just spray and gently wipe.
As for the kids’ motorized toys, it’s handy to have a full charge, trickle charger. The Battery Tender 12-Volt Charger is designed to bring a battery back up to a full charge and then maintain it at 100% indefinitely. It’s ideal for any automotive need—motorcycles, cars, trucks, RV’S, lawn mowers, ATVS, classic cars and generators. I use a Battery Tender on my collector cars too.
The Home Depot has the all these automotive products and more. They’ve recently updated their automotive section with products to maintain both your vehicle’s function and appearance, including additives, accessories, and everything needed for an oil change. Some of the other essential items you’ll find are tire inflation products and emergency kits.
A proper emergency kit includes a cell phone and charger, first-aid kit, tire inflation product, battery cables or a self-enclosed battery jumper, flares, a flashlight with fresh batteries and washer fluid.
Tip #2 – Save money with the right tire pressure!
It’s construction season! Potholes left over from the spring and debris left over from roadwork can prove a safety risk and can take a chunk out of your wallet. The first line of defense is proper tire inflation. Low tire pressure can cause bulges or blisters to the tires’ sidewalls and even dent the wheel. Remember to check your tire pressure once a month to get the most life from your tires, best handling and safety.
Proper tire pressure also means better gas mileage, with savings of 2-3 mpg. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is found in the gas door, glove box or the placard inside the door jamb. Check the tires when they’re cold because tire pressures increases while driving. Never use the number on your tire.
Tip #3 – Check the wear of your tires, inspect the tread!
Inspect your tires’ tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts and bruises along the sidewalls. One way to check tire tread is to insert a penny into the tire groove with Lincoln’s head down. If the top of the head is showing above the tread you need new tires.
How do you check the wear? It’s easy!
- Is the tire bald? Replace the tire!
- Is the center bald and the outside ok? Replace the tire!
- Are the outsides bald and the center of the tire ok? Replace the tire!
- Are the sidewalls cracked? Replace the tire!
If you find that your tires need to be replaced, don’t skimp! The Continental ExtremeContact DWS06 is a great tire for true, year-round traction. This tire includes SportPlus Technology which is designed for precise handling; security on wet, slippery roads; and excellent tread life.
Their Quick View Indicators put ease into the consumer’s tire inspection. The Tuned Performance Indicators (D, W, S letters) indicate the tire’s optimal performance levels in Dry, Wet and Snow. Plus, the Alignment Verification System provides an early warning system to alert drivers to have their vehicle’s alignment checked.
I personally tested the abilities of the ExtremeContact DWS06 tires compared to other known brands on a test track. The results were impressive. The traction was best-in-class for wet handling and braking, so much that you instantly can feel the difference. We then put the tires through the paces on dry condition, and again the tires stood out as an improvement over other tires on the market. Any driver can feel more confident on wet and dry roads and know they are safer. A fun fact is that Continental Tire is working on making tires out of dandelions. They are just now producing test tires and are hoping to have them out in 5-10 years.
Tip #4 – What needs to be replaced/repaired?
Be proactive! When the engine is cool, check your car’s fluids, including engine oil, radiator coolant and windshield washer fluid and refill or replace them as needed. Be sure to inspect hoses and belts for signs of wear such as cracks or blistering. You’ll also want to check your wiper blades, and replace them every six months. Make sure the air conditioner is working. If not, a certified technician should repair it.
Remember that neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value. It’s the time to schedule the repairs your car has accrued during the winter months.
So how much can a repair actually cost you? It’s not a secret anymore! A website called RepairPal.com has a free estimator tool that you can use to check the fair market price for specific repairs. Now you never have to wonder if you are getting ripped off. The certified mechanics listed on RepairPal.com go through a rigorous approval processes that only 1 out of 10 mechanics are likely to pass. Plus all certified mechanics honor those fair prices, or they will refund you the difference. Visit their website to find participating repair shops near you.
Tip #5 – Wash your car!
Don’t neglect your car!
Drivers in warmer climates should beware the sudden barrage of pollen that heralds the arrival of spring and often lasts throughout the summer. That seemingly unassuming powder is often highly acidic and can stain your car’s finish and accelerate rust. Wash your car regularly during “allergy-season,” change your cabin air-filter and keep those windows rolled up!
Be Car Care Aware
The Car Care Council’s FREE personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you take better care of your vehicle throughout the year. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions. “Be Car Care Aware” and get your free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide.
For more information on maintaining your car all year round, visit Lauren Fix, The Car Coach’s website at laurenfix.com.