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How to ready your ride for summer road trips

Jeremiah Reiter, a service technician with Troy-Alan Chevrolet Buick GMC, looks at tread depth while performing other maintenance in Slippery Rock on Monday, April 17, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle
Jeremiah Reiter, a Service Technician with Troy-Alan Chevrolet Buick GMC, checks a belt on a vehicle while performing other maintenance at the Slippery Rock dealership on Monday, April 17, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Whether you’re taking to the open road, leaving your vehicle behind, or enjoying staying at home, readying your vehicle for the summer shouldn’t be overlooked.

Luke Kim, of Mike Kelly Automotive, suggests checking that vehicles are ready before embarking on a summer road trip.

Check tire pressure and windshield wipers before hitting the road, he says. Also, inspect brakes for safety, and have your mechanic take a good look at the HVAC system, so that trips can be enjoyed in peak comfort.

Summer Road Readiness Checklist


These tips are offered by Luke Kim of Mike Kelly Automotive to ensure your vehicle is ready for summer road-tripping.

1. Get your brakes inspected. Driving on worn-down brakes can be dangerous.

2. Check the tire pressure on all four tires, as well as the spare. Inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Inspect the tires for cuts and bulges; examine the tread. Replace tires if needed.

3. Check the windshield wipers and fluid. Winter weather can cause damage to windshield wipers.

4. Have the HVAC system inspected.

5. Inspect the battery for corrosion and loose connections. Have it tested, and get it replaced or recharged if needed.

6. Replace the air filter.

7. Check and replenish fluids. This will help the vehicle run smoothly.

Jeremiah Reiter, a service technician with Troy-Alan Chevrolet Buick GMC, corrects air pressure in a tire while performing other maintenance in Slippery Rock on Monday, April 17, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Alex Strezeski, of Troy-Alan Chevrolet in Slippery Rock, advises “temperature changes can cause issues with vehicles that most drivers aren’t aware of — and what would be a simple fix can become a more complicated matter.”

Engines run hotter in the summer, he adds, and this can lead to “overheating, thereby causing engine damage.”

Strezeski suggests a multi-point vehicle inspection.

“It’s really a safety check,” he says.

Like Kim, Strezeski too stresses the value of checking the air conditioning features.

“When the weather changes, air conditioning issues arise,” he says. “These range from not being cold enough to not working at all.”

He says such problems can be caused by leaks, the system needing freon, or components failing.

Safety first

If the open road calls to you, Strezeski recommends keeping an emergency kit in the vehicle for road travel.

The kit should include a flashlight, batteries, water and snacks. Remember first aid supplies, jumper cables and emergency flares, which can better prepare you for unplanned problems and emergencies. Travel tool kits may also be beneficial.

Make sure the battery is fully charged. And check the tire pressure before leaving on any trip, Strezeski advises.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead and including vehicle services can alleviate stresses during travel. Strezeski encourages a personal monthly vehicle check. Checking a vehicle’s vitals includes changing the oil when it is due, topping off or replacing fluids as needed, getting a brake inspection and checking tire pressure and tread.

Inspecting belts and hoses and replacing any that are cracked or glazed can prevent issues with the engine water pump, alternator, or more.

“Don’t ignore the warning signs,” says Strezeski.

Going into the summer driving season with a vehicle that has not been properly prepared for the temperature change can put a damper on a vacation, staycation or day trip, or add worry to the grind of daily travel.

Summer vehicle readiness not only helps ensure safe travels for you and your passengers, but assists in the overall general upkeep of your vehicle.

Play it safe this summer!

Jeremiah Reiter, a service technician with Troy-Alan Chevrolet Buick GMC, adds refrigerant to a vehicle air conditioning system at the Slippery Rock dealership on Monday, April 17, 2023. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

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