Vacations are right around the corner. It’s the time of year where families and old friend get together and slowdown from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The last thing you want though is to spend your vacation week at an auto-repair shop in the middle of nowhere. Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your car but there are a few items you want to pay extra attention to before heading out on a long trip.
Many times, a long trip includes a stretch through a desert or area of the country that’s reaches higher temperatures so you’ll want to check your cooling system. Most cars today use a single, serpentine belt to operate the water pump, alternator, power steering pump and air conditioning compressor rather than a combination of two or three fan belts. These serpentine belts generally have a service life of about 100,000 miles. If you have 100,000 or more miles on your car consider replacing it. A failing belt will give you no warning before it breaks but it will leave you stranded if it does. While you’re having the belt replaced your mechanic can check the condition of the water pump and other devices that you otherwise couldn’t with the belt on.
Also, if you’ve reached or exceeded that 100,000 mile mark have your radiator coolant replaced. Old coolant loses its lubricating ability and is a common cause of water pump bearing failure. In addition, as the coolant ages it becomes more acidic and begins to attack freeze plugs as well as the radiator and other metal areas it contact. Over time it can eat right through the radiator core or heater core and without any notice.
And don’t forget your automatic transmission. If you haven’t done so in a while (or ever) have your transmission serviced before the trip. Old transmission fluid loses its lubricating and cooling properties. It also gives your transmission specialist an opportunity to make sure it’s working properly.
Your local ATRA can help you with the transmission service. Many work on other areas of the car and would be more than happy to check and service those cooling-systems items too.
To find a local ATRA member… http://www.atra.com/shopfinder