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Summer is around the corner, signaling the start of long days at the beach and meandering road trips. Thanks to the pandemic, roadways will be crowded with cars full of travelers unable to reach exotic destinations. So as you pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and get ready for fun, don’t overlook routine car maintenance. Otherwise, you could be headed for a highway breakdown.

How road trips affect cars

Driving farther than usual can cause a car’s engine to overheat, especially during summer’s high temperatures.

Motor and Wheels suggests, “When you’re taking a long trip, it’s recommended that you rest for at least 15 minutes every two hours.” This will allow your engine to cool as you refuel and give your passengers a chance to stretch their legs, take a bathroom break, and refill their favorite snacks.

Long-distance driving can negatively affect a vehicle’s performance, especially when driving uphill or in strenuous road conditions that’ll tax the engine. An older car will have difficulty keeping up with the extended mileage that comes with lengthy drives.

Getting stuck in traffic is also hard on the engine because it suddenly becomes idle after traveling nonstop for a while. Driving at top speeds for several hours is common on long road trips and will consume more fuel, requiring more frequent stops.

Diesel engines function differently from gas-powered engines. The engine must expend a large amount of power every time you turn it on and off. Diesel engines typically perform better on long trips instead of shorter trips encountered in city driving.

Several things to consider before hitting the highway

The engine isn’t the only part of a car that’s long road trips affect. Brakes, tires, and other moving parts can also experience undue stress on lengthy drives.

Before hitting the road, ensure that you top off all fluid levels and get an oil change if needed. Perform a routine inspection to ensure everything is in working order. If necessary, replace any worn belts, hoses, or bulbs to promote safe driving conditions.

It’s also a good idea to replace the air filter. Clean filtered air will keep the engine running efficiently. Last, check the tire pressure to ensure all four tires are properly inflated and ready to roll.

Road trips can end up costing more than expected

When your road trip is over, it’s equally important to assess the wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Take care of any visible problems so that your car is in good condition before returning to your daily routine.

Excessive use and high mileage can affect your vehicle’s resale value and bring you closer to the end of an extended warranty. Owners of older vehicles may want to consider a rental car for road trips instead of using their personal vehicles. Trip Savvy reports, “Long trips can really do damage to a vehicle, especially if it’s an older model.”

Road trips are rites of passage for many families that create lasting memories. Taking care of your vehicle along the way will enable it to stay on the road long after the trip is over.


Can Your Car Handle a Road Trip?