Summer Road Trip Vehicle Checklist

by Community Toyota in Baytown, Texas

Get your car ready for summer road trips with these tips

The lazy days of summer put special pressure on a vehicle. High temperatures, daily commutes plus added miles from weekend getaways and road trips mean cars are overextended and need more attention to function properly during the summer season.

Below are some tips to protect your vehicle to keep it running smoothly every day of the summer (and especially on your road trip adventures).

Start with the basics

The best way to get a car ready for a new season is to wash off the dirt and debris from previous season. Winter and spring weather can wreak havoc on a vehicle, so it’s important to do a thorough once-over, inside and out, of your car’s condition, writes U.S. News & World Report writer Jaclyn Trop. She also recommends checking for rust on the exterior and undercarriage of the vehicle, as well as checking for wear and tear on wiper blades; washing the car, including the floor mats; and applying a coat of wax every 3 months.

According to Autotrader.com writer Colin Ryan, windshields need extra attention and a complete cleaning to handle summer’s light, and now is the perfect time to clean the air filter or replace it entirely.

Assess tire quality

Higher temperatures translate into a greater potential for tire damage and blowouts, which means it’s vital to check and monitor air pressure in your tires, explains Trop. The right pressure is key to tire health, which means both over- and under-inflation of tires can be dangerous. Trop notes that tire tread is also important to review; remember to check the condition of the spare tire, too.

Tires should be in good condition, which means “no cracks, no uneven wear (this might be caused by a suspension problem) and plenty of tread depth,” according to Ryan.

Maintain sufficient cool levels

When it’s hot, loud and stinky on the highway, you want to be cool and comfy on the inside. That only happens if your car’s air conditioning is in good working order. Ryan advises that if your air conditioning was so-so over the winter, now is the time for some serious attention because if “there’s not enough refrigerant in the system, you have a leak.” Any leaks should be repaired by a professional before having the A/C recharged, says Ryan.

Don’t neglect year-round maintenance

Oil changes should be happening year-round, as should checks of brake, windshield-washer and power-steering fluids because they are constantly being depleted, according to Ryan, so don’t let them fall off your maintenance list during the summer. The serpentine belt can be a source of major damage, so make sure to check if for cracks or deterioration, adds Ryan.

You suffered through a harsh winter and a wet spring. Make sure your summer is carefree by giving your vehicle the attention it needs to perform at its best all season long.