Your Vehicle and Summer Travel

Spring 2002 CSANews Issue 42  |  Posted date : Apr 05, 2007.Back to list

Summer travel season will soon be upon us. Many will take advantage of the warmer weather and good road conditions and embark on another fun-filled holiday. Whether you are travelling across the continent or around the neighbourhood, the last thing anyone needs is vehicle trouble on the road. A little pre-trip preparation can help prevent that frustration and will contribute to a hassle free journey.

There are many reasons for breakdowns, but overheated cooling systems, burned transmissions and tire problems are some of the more common reasons vehicles become stranded. A few simple inspections can locate many potential problems. Some inspections such as checking the engine oil and tire pressure are easily done by vehicle owners. The inspection of more complex components like brakes and exhaust systems take longer and require the expertise of a professional. When deciding where to service your vehicle, it is important that the repair shop has professionals you can trust. Vehicle inspection services can be purchased at most repair shops; a Seasonal Service Package from Certigard is a good place to start.

When performing a vehicle inspection, safety and reliability should be a priority. Safety checks should include the operation of lights, wiper blades, brakes, steering, suspension, and tires.

Tire safety has been big news lately, and for good reason. Low tire pressure or a damaged tire could cause a blowout. Check all tires carefully and don't overlook the spare. Tires with less than 4/32-inch tread depth can aquaplane on wet roads, so worn tire replacement should be at the top of your list.

A vehicle's brakes may work fine until you need them the most - an emergency stop. Poor brake performance may cause you to lose control. Brake components must be inspected thoroughly. Have a repair shop inspect your vehicle's braking system and be sure to have any safety-related problems repaired before you head out on the road.

Some component failures can prevent a vehicle from operating. A broken timing belt is a prime example. Timing belts are much more difficult to inspect compared to other drive belts, and they should be changed at the intervals shown in the owner's manual. Talk to your local Certigard Service Centre about this important engine component, its failure could lead to extensive engine damage.

Very small oil leaks are usually only inconvenient - they make a mess but do little damage if the oil level is checked regularly. However, even the smallest oil leaks can be disastrous if the oil is leaking onto a timing belt. Timing belts erode quickly when they come in contact with oil, so these oil leaks should be fixed immediately.

All fluid levels on the vehicle should be checked regularly. Special attention should be paid to coolant leaks. Low coolant can cause the engine to overheat, but vehicles often overheat because they have lost pressure in the cooling system. Cooling systems are pressurized to increase the coolant boiling point. Even a small leak can cause overheating on a hot summer drive.

Transmission problems can often be identified by inspecting the oil. Very dark brown oil, usually accompanied by a burnt smell, indicates the oil has been overheated and should be changed. Metal or fibre particles in the oil indicate that transmission damage has already occurred. It should be noted that vehicles used for towing trailers should have the transmission oil changed every towing season. Towing heats the transmission oil more than "normal" use. You may want to consider installing an auxiliary transmission cooler to help protect the transmission.

Air conditioning, can make the difference between relaxed touring and an uncomfortable journey. Air conditioning also helps drivers stay alert on long hot drives and an alert driver is a safe driver. Spring is a good time to get the air conditioning system serviced. Systems low on refrigerant may work during cooler spring days, but their performance may be less than desirable in the heat of summer. Dirt, and last fall's leaves may be blocking airflow through the condensor and radiator. This not only prevents the air conditioning from working properly, but could also contribute to the engine overheating as well.

Preparing for summer travel by completing vehicle inspections and performing preventative maintenance will allow you to schedule the required repairs conveniently before you leave on your trip. The assurance of knowing that your vehicle is in a safe operating condition makes travelling that much more enjoyable for everyone.