3 things you probably haven't done before your summer road trip

1. Wash and Wax your car

It’s nice to have a shiny car in the summer when you can appreciate your vehicle’s gleaming paint job. But before setting out on your next road trip, here’s why you should wash and wax your car for other benefits aside from aesthetics.

With the summer weather come the bugs and bug splatter. Bug guts are not only unsightly but also acidic.

Left to their own devices to “bake” in the summer heat, this acid will eat through your car’s paint. Worse yet, it can even cause rust spots over time if on a metal surface. The same also goes for dried up bird excrement.

Waxing your car before a road trip protects the finish and adds a little extra bit of protection to those highly vulnerable areas of your car. Not only will removing the bugs be much easier, but your car’s clear coat will have an extra layer of help in preventing the pesky guts from damage.

Always soften the caked on mess first with car wash soap and water before scrubbing, or there is a good chance you will mar the surface.

Remember, the longer the crushed carcasses or bird droppings have been on the surface, the harder they will be to remove. This means that you need to stay on your A-game and plan on removing them much sooner rather than later.

Keep in mind that the best wax and paint sealant can still be penetrated if you’re not proactive about removing the bugs and bird droppings within a day or so.

2. Check your spare tire’s air pressure

Checking your tires is especially important in the summer.  For road trips, cars are typically packed to the max with fuel, passengers, luggage, tents, etc.

Heat is a tire’s worse enemy. Underinflated tires will overheat quicker than ever in the summer heat, greatly increasing the chance of blow-outs. Add a full-loaded vehicle to the equation and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

There are separate cold tire pressures for normal and full loads for every vehicle, so be sure to fill up your tires to the appropriate specification listed in the owner’s manual or on the inside of the fuel filler cap.

Don’t forget to check the spare tire’s condition and recommended inflated pressure as well! Most of these are often left unattended for years because it may be inconvenient to access.

If your vehicle’s spare is mounted on the underside, these are often exposed to the elements and subject to road hazards. But finding it out before you leave on your trip sure beats having an unusable spare tire at the side of a busy highway at night.

The spare tire’s recommended pressure is usually printed in your owner’s manual, or on the tire’s sidewall if it’s a collapsible “donut” spare. Full-sized spare tires are usually just inflated to the same tire pressures as the rest of your tires.

If your car has a fix-a-flat sealant/inflator kit, ensure that the sealant bottle has not expired, and that the cigarette lighter-powered air compressor still works.

3. Top-up your oil and coolant

Before setting off, check your car’s oil level when the engine is cold and the vehicle is on level ground so as to ensure that it is at the appropriate level. If it is almost time to get the oil changed, do it before you leave.

Why? A long trip can put additional stress on your motor and you want it running at its peak condition, especially when you are away from home.

While you are under the hood, check your coolant level as well. Also known as radiator fluid or antifreeze, this liquid mixture of glycol and water runs throughout your engine’s cooling system and helps to keep your engine operating at the right temperature.

If you have not changed your coolant in the last three years, now is probably the time to do it. Over time, dirt and other engine contaminants can build up in the fluid rendering it less effective. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended intervals between coolant flushes and the necessary coolant type for your engine.

If you are unsure as to how to check your oil or coolant, stop by your auto dealership’s service department, or better yet schedule a service appointment.

Most manufacturer-specified service schedules will also call for the technician to inspect the belts, joints, and other wear-and-tear components to ensure that they’re within recommended operational specifications.

Roadside Assistance

If all else fails and you do experience a breakdown, the good news is that a lot of new cars come with free roadside assistance during or even beyond the warranty period.

For example, Hyundai Canada’s 24/7 Roadside Assistance provides 5 years of coverage for new Hyundai vehicles, regardless of the mileage you put on your vehicle.

It even includes lockout assistance, flat tire changing, battery boosting, towing to the nearest Hyundai dealership or authorized facility, and much more.