Preventive Maintenance Tips for Summer Driving

By Jason Davis | May 28, 2012
When college campuses across the nation are being bombarded by leggy, short-shorts-wearing girls in flip-flops, you know that winter is officially over. Though that happens earlier in the year here in Los Angeles than other parts of the country, we’re no less immune from what the seasonal awakening actually means: ROAD TRIP! That’s right, Memorial Day is the historical marker for the beginning of summer driving season, so get your Kerouac on and hit the road. But before taking the mean streets in your parents’ old Volvo 240 wagon, it’d be wise to read up on these preventative maintenance and driving tips.  You know, so you don’t die.* Dash Lights Don’t ignore them, especially the orange, yellow, or red ones that read “check engine.” Or you can, if you want, and chance that what could have been a simple fix turns into a blown head gasket and thus, several thousand dollars in repairs. If this sounds familiar, head over to Pep Boys for a complimentary check engine light scan. Batteries Your 32GB iPhone 4S battery isn’t the only battery in your life that needs a little love. We all take car batteries for granted, expecting them to just work, all the time, every time, and in every situation. So if you’ve had a busy, or an extremely not busy winter, the changing seasons may have an effect on your battery.
  • Terminals: Those red and black battery clamps are fastened onto metal nub things. Those are the terminals. If you see chalky growth formations that resemble Mount Rushmore or the Starship Enterprise, then you need to clean your connections.
  • Charging: If you need to wake your slumbering auto from a winter beauty rest, it’s possible you may have an undercharged or fully discharged battery. So, don’t do that. Instead, next winter, consider connecting your battery to charger or simply unplugging the battery for the period of inactivity/inebriation.
  • Noises: Panic. Or, just take your battery to a trained specialist. Especially if it is older than three years, or shows signs of being weak or undercharged.
Brakes You want to stop, right? This is a no-brainer. You can’t be lazy on this one. But if you want to be lazy, even though I just said not to be, just take your car to the dealership, or to Pep Boys, and ask for a complimentary brake inspection. Of course, the dealership is going to try to get you to buy new pads. And you really should—if your pads are screeching and have no life left.
Tires You really should rotate them once in a while. And if one part of the tread is more worn than another side—which WILL impact handling in inclement weather like rain and snow, and conditions like sand and debris—consider ponying up for new rubber. And if you do that, and even if you don’t, consider getting your tires balanced and your suspension aligned. It’s important for safety to have the all of the tire’s tread have even contact upon the road surface. Practice Good Driving Habits I can’t be the only good driver on the road, so be a more conscious citizen while plowing down the interstate. GET OFF YOUR #%^&@!$ PHONE! Self explanatory. Gas is expensive Unless Moneybags is your uncle and you can afford limitless fill-ups and lapses in fossil-burning judgment, stretch your fuel. By that, we mean drive smoothly and in your highest fuel-efficient gear (usually fourth, fifth, or sixth gears), and at a steady pace. Time your stoplights and stop signs with gradual braking and acceleration.
  • Windows, not A/C: I’m a fan of windows down around town. Enjoy the weather, bro. That said, if conditions permit, use the fan and not the A/C while driving. It’ll save load on the engine. But if you have to use A/C, use the “recirculation” instead of drawing in outside ambient air. Experts say this increases your fuel economy, so there’s that, too.
  • Utilize technology: Most new cars are equipped with on-board computers that track your vehicle’s MPG in real-time. Studies by smart people in white coats show that monitoring these devices while driving makes you more conscious of increasing your mileage. But there are other things, too, like mobile apps, like Gas Buddy, Cheap Gas!, and Beat the Traffic, to help you plan your route. Really, you can save time and money! Love your technology: Always and forever.
  • Clean car: Seriously, have some pride, man. At least run it through a wash once a quarter, and clean out the interior while you’re at it. Heavy, fully-loaded vehicles get worse gas mileage and let’s face it—with all that cluttered junk and trash, you kind of look like a creep.
Source: Pep Boys
* cannot ensure that you will not, in fact, die, but with proper and attentive maintenance, your car will love you and protect you more than if you were to completely disregard the thoughts your good conscience is sending you. So, go away devilish conscience, we’re advocating safety and we want driver’s to drive safely.