Warmer weather might have you ready for a driving adventure. Before you load up the car or truck and head out on the highway, you should make sure your ride is ready for the rigors of the road.
While most of us know to check the battery, oil, cooling system and tire tread, there are some hidden maintenance issues many people miss. Here are seven springtime car prep tips to consider:
- Tire rotation. While the tread may look fine, rotating tires helps prevent uneven wear, prolonging their life. It’s recommended you rotate them every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles. After a long winter of rough roads and potholes, you might also having them checked for bulges and to make sure they are balanced and aligned to prevent pulling and vibration while driving.
- Tire pressure. Underinflated or overinflated tires wear quicker and can result in blowouts, reduced gas mileage, and quicker wear. Most tire experts recommend you test tire inflation monthly, keeping them inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI – between 30 and 35 PSI for most tires (found on a door sticker or owner’s manual).
- Spare tire. When’s the last time you checked to see if the spare was properly inflated, and that you have a working jack and tire tools? Failing to do so could leave you stuck on a busy highway with a flat tire and a worthless spare or jack.
- Cabin air filter. Many people don’t know there is a filter for the air that flows into your car. If you notice a reduction of airflow when you turn on the air conditioner or heater, or persistent bad odors, odds are your cabin filter needs replacing. This filter captures leaves, insects, pollen, dust, soot and other debris, and it should be replaced every year or year-and-a-half.
- Windshield wipers. Are you tired of streaking or incomplete cleaning of water, snow or ice? Summer heat and winter cold crack, rip and tear the rubber on the blades, creating an uneven surface. You can extend their life by cleaning them monthly with denatured alcohol, but for most of us, a yearly wiper blade replacement makes sense.
- Gas cap. Yes, over time the gas cap can lose its seal, causing fuel to evaporate and trigger the “check engine light” to come on.
- Headlights, taillights and turn indicators. Road grime and pitting can yellow and turn headlight casings cloudy. They need to be cleaned for maximum illumination so you can better see obstacles, animals or other dangers on the road ahead, and help others to see you. You’ll also want to walk around your vehicle (or have someone help you) to check that all the turn indicators and lights are working properly.
Now that you have your car ready for the road, don’t forget a basic safety kit that consists of:
- Cell phone and spare battery
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Warning light or reflective triangles
- Tire gauge
- Jumper cables
- Foam sealant for flat tires
You also need the proper insurance to protect your vehicle and those riding with you. Just as your vehicle needs a tune up every now and then, so does your auto insurance. Contact an advisor from your NEA Auto and Home Insurance Program provider, California Casualty, for a policy review at www.neamb.com/autohome or call 1.800.800.9410.