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There’s nothing quite like the thrill of hitting the open road during the summer. From the scenic mountain ranges to the coastal highways stretching on and on, every mile packs the potential for adventure. It’s the perfect season to go on a road trip and enjoy all this. But before you pack your sunscreen and flip-flops, there’s one summer essential you can’t overlook—your car.

If you don’t adequately prepare your car for the journey, your entire trip can take a disastrous turn. Below, we’ll explain the best ways to prepare your car for summer road trips and offer some planning and driving tips.

1. Assess Your Tires

Your tires are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road. This makes them some of the most critical components of your car. The last thing any driver wants is a flat or blowout on the highway, so inspect the tires thoroughly to ensure they’re ready for the adventure ahead.

Inspect the tread and look for any signs of sidewall cracks or damage. If your tires are on their last bits of tread, consider replacing them with tires suitable for hot temperatures and high speeds, such as summer tires.

The Benefits of Summer Tires

Summer tires, also known as performance tires, aren’t just for speed demons or sports cars. They can handle hotter temperatures and perform better on wet and dry roads.

The rubber compounds in summer tires maintain their grip and hardness under the blazing sun, ensuring better handling even when the roads are scorching. When you’re planning a long summer road trip where your car will be on hot pavements for days at a time, there’s no better tire to ensure your safety during the journey.

2. Inspect and Listen to Your Brakes

Your brakes might be the most critical safety feature in your car. When you’re traveling long distances, you rely on them to work perfectly time and time again.

Before you set off, ensure your vehicle has ample brake pad thickness. Typically, it shouldn’t be less than a quarter of an inch. When you have a minute, take a quiet drive and pay attention to what your brakes are telling you. If you hear any grinding, squeaking, or whining noises while braking, it’s time to visit the mechanic.

8 Ways To Prepare Your Car for Summer Road Trips

3. Check the Fluids

Hot summer days on the road mean higher chances of dehydration for you and your car. Before embarking, check and top up all engine fluids. The basic fluids you should look at include:

  • Engine oil
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid

Singularly, none of these fluids are particularly expensive or difficult to replace. But together, they represent the lifeblood of your machine. Neglecting them could lead to significant problems like your car overheating.

4. Test the Battery

While most worry about their car battery in the cold winter, the sweltering summer heat can also harm and accelerate your car battery’s lifespan. The last thing you want is a dead battery when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Before you set out, test your battery to ensure it has some juice and can handle the trip ahead. Most batteries have a three- to five-year lifespan. So if yours is nearing its expiration date, consider replacing it as a preemptive measure. It’s also wise to bring a portable battery jump starter pack just in case.

5. Replace the Wiper Blades

Visibility is a major player in road safety, and summer often brings sporadic rain showers, which can quickly turn a perfectly sunny day into a visibility nightmare. Replace wiper blades if they’re streaking or smearing. Also, ensure there’s enough wiper fluid in the reservoir to remove bugs, dust, and anything else your windshield comes across.

6. Wash and Wax the Exterior

Summer road trips can be especially hard on your car’s exterior and paint job due to the excessive UV exposure, dirt, dust, bugs, grime, and everything else you come across. While it may seem cosmetic, if you don’t protect your car’s exterior from the sun’s harmful UV rays, it’ll fade. Also, dirt and dust sticking to the exterior can lead to corrosion over time.

Before your trip, thoroughly wash your car and wax it inside and out. This will remove any leftover dirt and dust on your car’s exterior, and the wax coating will offer protection against UV exposure.

8 Ways To Prepare Your Car for Summer Road Trips

7. Test the Air Conditioning

There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a properly functioning air conditioning system during a hot summer drive. But if it’s not working, you may feel like you’re driving in a sauna for hours, which is uncomfortable and dangerous. Test your air conditioning first to ensure it’s working and ready for the long, hot journey ahead.

8. Pack an Emergency Kit

No one heads out on a road trip expecting trouble, but being ready for it can make a difference. When taking a long road trip, every driver should pack some items in an emergency kit for their safety, including:

  • Jumper cables
  • A toolkit
  • A flashlight
  • A tire changing and repair kit
  • Water and nonperishable snacks

If you end up stranded on the side of the road during your trip due to a flat tire or other malfunction, this kit will ensure you’re safe until help arrives.

Tips for Planning a Summer Road Trip

We’ve covered the ways to prepare your car for summer road trips, but what about the driver? Before you hit the road, consider these driving tips for a safe, efficient, and fun trip!

Plan Against Weather and Traffic

While there’s fun and adventure in setting out without a set itinerary, it’s always best to have some kind of plan to avoid traffic and potentially dangerous weather. Check traffic reports, and consider driving at times with fewer commuters and travelers.

Also, keep updated with weather reports, as summer storms can seemingly come out of nowhere at a moment’s notice. Planning can end up saving time by helping you avoid traffic jams and punishing weather.

Bring Analog Navigation Backups

If you’re like most drivers, you’ll use your smartphone’s navigation mobile apps or the GPS of your vehicle to find your way during the trip. While these are useful and helpful, you’ll want to ensure you don’t solely depend on technology. Bring along some area maps as analog backups. If you’re traveling in the middle of sparsely populated areas, getting service could be difficult. So just in case, have a map handy you can fall back on.

Get Your Tires Ready for Your Trip With RNR Tire Express!

If you remember our tips, you’ll have a fun and safe summer road trip! If you need to inspect, service, or replace your tires in Laredo, RNR Tire Express can help. Stop by one of our many tire shops, or schedule an appointment. We’ll get your vehicle and tires ready for the summer.

Locations: Laredo, TX

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