The warm weather of summer is approaching, and the open road beckons you to destinations both familiar and new. However, your vehicle may need some general maintenance before you decide to travel. There are a few things you should check that will make your travel experiences much more pleasant and less prone to vehicle breakdowns. These include:

Your car battery

Visually inspect your battery terminals and cables by loosening the cable clamps with an adjustable wrench. If there are signs of corrosion buildup (a white powdery coating), clean them with a light grade sandpaper. Check the cables for signs of wear. If you see copper colored wire exposed at any point along the length of a cable, you should replace the cable.

If your battery is over two years old, or has been exposed to extremely cold weather, you should take it to an auto supply store to be tested. They will usually test your battery for free.

Hoses and belts

Hoses and belts are common causes of vehicle breakdowns, especially if they are older or have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Hoses and belts should be supple and smooth to the touch, with no visible signs of cracks or wear. Over time, temperature variations cause hoses and belts to expand and contract. They become dry and brittle, losing their elasticity, and cannot withstand the pressure of hard use on long trips.

Replace all hoses and belts at one time if they are all original parts or have been replaced at the same time in the past.

Air filters

There are two air filters in your vehicle. The cabin air filter cleans the air that you breathe, while the engine air filter cleans the air that your engine uses to burn fuel. A dirty engine air filter can decrease engine performance and gas mileage, while a dirty cabin filter can allow contaminants such as road dust, allergens, and road salt into the air that you breathe inside your vehicle.

Both are simple to replace and only require a screwdriver to open an easily accessed compartment, but their locations may be different in each vehicle. Check your owner's manual for specific locations. Be sure to purchase the correct filters for the year, make, and model of your vehicle.


Your coolant has two duties. It acts as an antifreeze in the winter and cools your engine in the summer. Your cooling system has an overflow tank which allows it to expand when hot. This transparent tank is located near the front of the engine and has both "full" and "low" markings on its side. If the fluid is at the "low" level in the overflow tank, you should fill the tank to the full level.

Be sure to buy coolant that meets the manufacturer's specifications as outlined in your owner's manual. If possible, have your coolant flushed and filled at a local service center. Many car repair facilities have special deals on cooling system "flush and fills" in the spring. Coolant can become degraded over time and less effective in keeping your engine from overheating when you are enjoying an otherwise relaxing road trip. For more information, contact a business such as Import Specialty Auto.