It’s officially summer! And despite the rising gas prices, summer is still road trip season. Wherever you are going, you should venture out prepared for anything. Whether you like to think about it or not, the average road-tripper will encounter unforeseen obstacles while on the road. Whether it’s wildlife in the road, your engine overheats, or you blow a tire – one of these things will happen sooner or later.
Engine overheating is the number one reason people break down in the summer months. Many people just don’t realize the profound effect heat can have on their vehicle. It’s strongly recommended to service your engine prior to a long road trip. Ensuring your oil is replaced and your engine filters are in tip-top shape can help avoid catastrophe. You should also be sure to have a professional inspect, and if needed, replace components such as belts, clamps, and hoses.
Although Enginetech focuses solely on engine parts, we understand that all things work together in your vehicle to get you from point A to point B. In addition to servicing your engine and replacing worn-out parts, here’s our advice on what to take with you on the road this summer.
Cell phone and car charger
You must always be ready to call for help. Whether you’re broken down and need a tow truck, need to reach a mechanic, or require emergency medical assistance. Keep your phone charged and plug it in at every opportunity. If your car battery dies, you won’t be able to use your car charger, therefore other methods of portable charging, like power banks, are smart to have on hand.
First Aid Kit
You never know what a road trip might bring when you’re miles away from home or hospital. Having medical supplies on hand can at the very least bring you piece of mind. In cases where you attempt to touch your still-hot overheated engine (don’t!) and you end up burning yourself, you’ll need a cold pack and a bandage.
I know what you’re thinking – it’s summer, why would I need a blanket? Have you ever been stranded at night in the desert? According to the NASA Earth Observatory, “During the day, desert temperatures rise to an average of 38°C (a little over 100°F). At night, desert temperatures fall to an average of -3.9°C (about 25°F).” It will be chilly, and the risk of hypothermia is real.
Drinking Water and Snacks
Just like a blanket, you wouldn’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere without fresh food and water. However, you should never just leave food unattended in your vehicle for any length of time as food smells attract animals, big and small. Also, perishable food should never be left in a hot car, for the obvious reason of avoiding food born illness from bacteria.
Flashlight and extra batteries (make sure those batteries are fresh!)
It’s dark out there at night on small 2 lane highways without streetlights. Be always prepared with a flashlight, and extra batteries. However, make sure those batteries are fresh and haven’t been lying around in your hot car for months – you’ll need them to work!
Car parts can be greasy, you’ll need something to wipe your hands with if you touch anything in your engine or change a tire. You should also be careful not to touch fluids with your bare hands, using a rag or better yet, gloves, can protect your skin from fluids and things like battery acid. Enginetech has some great gloves among our available shop supplies!
Cat Litter or Sand
If you’ve ever been stuck in the mud, you know that the thing you need most is tire traction. Kitty litter or gravel is the best thing to use. Put it under your tires to gain the traction needed to get out of a slippery situation.
Jumper Cables and an Emergency Battery Booster
Everyone should have jumper cables because when you are on the roadside with a dead battery, you can never rely on a passer-by to have them. On many smaller interstates, road-side assistance is not always available, or at the very least, the wait time can be lengthy. You also may not see another driver for quite some time; therefore, it is a good idea to become self-reliant. How? you ask. With an emergency battery booster of course! These are also known as portable jump starters and can be found at most auto supply stores.
Tire Jack & Lug Wrench
Because let’s face it, it would be hard to change a tire without a tire jack and a lug wrench. Most people find these stowed in their trunk underneath the cargo space. Your owner’s manual will have more information on that.
You should always keep your owner’s manual in your glove box, where it is always easily accessible. This contains all the important information you don’t likely have memorized about your vehicle, including recommended PSI levels and where to locate the components of your vehicle’s engine.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Everyone should have a tire pressure gauge, whether on a
road trip or just driving around town – you WILL need this. Never drive on soft
tires and check your tires before every leg of your road trip. It is best
practice to walk around your vehicle and visually inspect your tires for loss
of pressure or punctures. Fill your tires with air as needed. Refer to your
owner’s manual for the correct PSI for your vehicle.
There you have it, our check list for summer road trips.
Remember, never underestimate how the summer heat can affect your vehicle.
Service your engine prior to long road trips and make the effort to replace
what’s needed. You may need to spend a little money up front, but ensuring your
engine is in good shape will save you a lot of heartache out there on your own.
Have a professional inspect your vehicle and bring along these key emergency
items to make sure you are road trip ready this summer!