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Regular car maintenance vital to summer trips

Staff writer

Summer is here, and for many motorists that means a road trip.

Car care is important year-round, especially when driving long distances with the family in tow.

Kim Kaufman, service manager at Hillsboro Ford, said some things motorists can check themselves.

Checking tire tread level is a simple and important addition to checking fluid levels.

“A tire is considered worn out if its tread is below 2/32nds of an inch,” Kaufman said. “If it’s raining, you’re going to want more than that or you run the risk of hydroplaning.”

Most tires have wear indicators in their grooves motorist can check.

“The indicators look like bumps inside the grooves,” Kaufman said. “If the bump is level with the tread, the tire should probably be replaced.”

Motorists can use a penny to check tread levels.

“Just stick Lincoln in head-first and if the tread is at the top of his head, you should replace the tire,” he said. “If the tread is at his nose, you’re probably OK.”

As temperatures rise, motorists will likely use air-conditioning more.

“A person can kind of check the AC themselves if they have an electric thermometer,” Kaufman said. “Thermometers should be in inserted in a dashboard duct. Turn on the AC to its coldest setting and drive about five miles.”

If the thermometer reads about 45 degrees, the AC is probably working properly, Kaufman said. However, if the thermometer reading is about 50 degrees, it should be checked.

Barry Allen, owner of Webster’s Auto in Marion, has a tip for motorists with allergy symptoms.

“Some cars have cabin air filters people might forget about,” Allen said. “What with all the allergens in the air right now, it’s a good idea to check them and change them out if you have allergies.”

Before big trips, he said, some motorists forget to check tire pressure, engine belts, windshield wipers, vehicle lights, all of which pose safety concerns if parts malfunction.

When vacationing far from home, car problems are the last thing people want, Allen said.

Keeping a gallon of water in the car is an inexpensive and effective alternative to antifreeze in case radiators overheat, Allen said.

Last modified May 28, 2015

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