A quart of prevention can
prevent gallons of trouble
Paying attention to routine car maintenance can help prevent major breakdowns during vacation.
Barry Allen, owner of Webster Auto Service in Marion, suggests getting preventive maintenance done before taking off on a long summer trip.
He suggests paying special attention to the cooling system.
“Make sure the cooling fan is working, and check the radiator fan and air filter to make sure they appear to be in good condition,” Allen said.
Drivers might want to have a mechanic look at the cooling system if they aren’t sure they know what they are looking for, he said.
“You could take a gallon of water along in case you would develop a coolant leak,” Allen said. “At least you could get by until you get to the next town.”
Belts and hoses also should be inspected.
Allen also recommends keeping an eye on the fuel gauge.
“In the summertime it’s better not to let it get under a quarter of a tank,” Allen said. “Your fuel actually cools your fuel pump, and if you let it get too low, you could build up more heat and possibly make the fuel pump malfunction.”
Allen recommends limiting the time a car sits idling in the sun because cooling airflow is reduced in idle, leading to buildup of extra heat.
Although not a car maintenance item, he also suggests carrying a cell phone on the road.
“It gives you a little bit more security,” Allen said.
Hillsboro Ford service manager Kim Kaufman said keeping up on routine maintenance goes a long way in the summer, as it does all year.
“Keep your oil changed year-round, have the car looked over, looking at the belts, and check the fluids,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman emphasizes checking tires to make sure they are in good condition.
“Eighty percent of your tire problems happen in the last 20 percent of their tread,” Kaufman said.
“Another thing people worry about is air conditioners,” Kaufman said. “What we typically do to make a quick check is put a thermometer in an air duct and run the car down the road. What we like to see is about 40 to 45 degrees.”
A check of the coolant also is a good idea, Kaufman said.
“Another thing year-round is making sure your coolant is in good condition and you have good protection. “It keeps from having major problems with the coolant system.”