Car Travel Tips

While warmer weather inspires a big cleanup in most households, car owners would be wise to be just as thorough with their cars. “After a winter of cold wear and tear, it’s incredibly important to have your car ready for the other extreme-a summer of scorching wear and tear,” says Mark Salem, talk show host of Under the Hood, a car-care show on KTAR 92.3 FM and 620 AM in Phoenix. Mark is also an ASE-Certified Master Technician and the owner of Salem Boys Auto, an autorepair facility in Tempe, Ariz. “First and foremost, leaving the salt and road dirt all over and under your car is a bad idea,” explains Salem. “Hit the local self-serve car wash to make the car less vulnerable to rustand more valuable when you sell it.” To glide you into the warm-weather driving season, follow this sevenpoint checklist for safety, dependability and fuel economy.

Car Travel Tips
Car Travel Tips
  1. Swap out or rotate tires, checking pressure-If you drive on winter tires, it’s time to swap them out for all-season tires. If you don’t, it’s still important to have your tires rotated or replaced. Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated and balanced. Appropriate tire pressure will increase gas mileage and decrease tread wear.
  2. Brake check-After a winter of heavy braking to avoid ice, be sure to check your brakes. Most of the time, simply listening to your car gives clues. If you hear excessive grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter, get the brakes checked.
  3. Change your oil-Oil, the lifeblood of your engine, requires some thought. What to use? Fully synthetic oils, such as Mobil 1, are specifically designed to protect your engine in all temperatures, while optimizing your engine’s efficiency and reducing oil consumption. Also, consult your owner’s manual or ask your technician. (For more information about Mobil 1, go to
  4. Check all fluids-Having no wiper fluid days after a snow-storm should be a clue that it’s important to keep an eye on such things. In the cold months, fluids are easily depleted as your car works harder. Check, top off or replace the brake fluid, the transmission fluid, coolant, power-steering fluid and windshield washer fluid.
  5. Wiper blades check-A winter of wiping away sleet and snow has led your blades to smear rather than clear. The perpetual dirty streak in your line of sight can be a hazard, and replacing the wipers is far less costly than replacing a scratched windshield. Replace your wipers now, before pounding spring rains make it difficult to see.
  6. Pressure-test your air conditioning-To prevent the sweaty hassle of realizing you have no air-conditioning on the first hot day of the year, check the vent temperature (pressure) of the cooling system. It should be 55 degrees or less. Also, make sure someone examines belts and hoses for wear, deterioration or refrigerant leaks.
  7. Apply a protectant-In the sun, vinyl-commonly used for seats and steering wheels-is susceptible to cracking and fading. Now is a great time to apply a protectant to prevent such unsightly damage.

“Before your attention turns to beaches and barbecues, make sure to follow these simple steps,” says Salem. “They’ll ensure that you get to and from those summertime happenings comfortably and safely. Spending your day waiting for a tow truck when you’re dressed in beach wear may not be what you had in mind.” For more information on vehicle maintenance, visit As warmer weather approaches, it’s a smart idea to make sure your car is ready. Don’t forget to change your oil and rotate your tires. (Contributed by North American Precis Syndicate)

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