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3 Necessary Steps To Get Your Car Summer-Ready

I recently took my car into my local mechanic to fix a very worrisome problem. Every time I used the brakes my car would shake. On the streets it was somewhat noticeable. On the highways and at high speeds it was furious. I knew it was time to take the car in when my daughter asked, "Daddy, what's wrong with the car?"

Turns out the problem was very fixable. My front rotors, the silver discs that the brake calipers clamp down on when you place your foot on the brake pedal, were warped from heat and normal usage. They needed to be resurfaced. A couple hours later and $135 lighter I drove off my mechanic's lot with what felt like a brand new car. What's more I felt safe. I was reminded of a time long ago, when I was much younger and was getting my first brake job on my first car in Queens, New York. My mechanic at the time told me, "I spend top dollar on brakes because what you're riding on will protect you and what you're riding in." He had kids and spoke of his "precious investments." Now that I've got kids, I understand exactly what he meant.

Summertime is for having fun and being spontaneous. The stuff of memories is the weekend excursion with the wife, or the road trip with the kids. It's not a good feeling to be on the road and not feel safe with the people you value most. Renting a car isn't always an option. Sometimes it's nice to take the vehicle you own out on the road. But before doing so make sure your vehicle is "road trip ready" by following these three steps:

1 - Maintain Your Tires

Unless your vehicle is a complete hazard to the road, oftentimes what you're riding on is more important than what you're riding in. As I explained to my daughter last week, tires lose air and ultimately pressure over time and use of your vehicle. But the beautiful thing about this is that it is a free to inexpensive fix. Most vehicles built since the year 2005 have tire pressure monitors built right into the dashboard, so your car will let you know when it's time to re-inflate them (be sure to check the writing on the side of your tire or just inside the door jamb of the driver's side for the correct amount of pressure --- PSI - pounds per square inch - your tires should have). If you don't have a tire pressure monitoring system and even if you do, make sure you have a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment so you can do spot inspections and see, with your own eyes, your tires' current air pressure. Not to insult anyone, but if you don't know, you can refill the air in your tires at gas stations either for free or at a cost of $1.50 - $1.75 in quarters.

I could go into great detail about how to check for tire tread wear, especially since my own tires are getting a little on the "bald" side. But this guy does it better then me and he using a tire to demonstrate:

There's nothing between you and the road, but the tires you're sitting on. Given weather, changing road conditions and other drivers, you simply cannot put yourself, your passengers or your vehicle at risk with inadequate tires. Should you need new tires, Hankook's new Ventus S1 Noble2 line has an option for every vehicle.

2- Check Your Brakes

If you missed my intro for this post, please read it again. An even better solution is not to wait for a problem to arise. At winter's end or the beginning of spring take your car in to your trusted mechanic and have them give you an honest evaluation of your brakes. The questions you'll need to ask are:

  1. How much time do I have before the brakes need to be replaced?
  2. How worn down are they?
  3. When do you recommend replacing them (if not, now)?
  4. Do the rotors need to be resurfaced?
A mechanic worth his salt will answer your questions and rather than immediately pushing you to replace your brakes. Should you need to replace your brakes, don't skimp. There are plenty of things you can save money on when having repairs made to your car, the parts that stop your vehicle from moving should not be among them. That trusted mechanic I mentioned will have more than one option available. Ask him or her for the best one for your vehicle and don't hesitate making that purchase.

3- Check Those Wipers

You may need more than the newest "streak-free" windshield wiper fluid to get your windshield clean. There is nothing worse than driving on a bright, sun-shiny day and being blinded by dirt, smudges and streaks left by your windshield wipers. The short video below shows you how to maintain or replace, if necessary, your blades.

There are plenty of other checks and fixes you can make to your vehicle such as cleaning out the cargo bay or trunk of non-essential items, making your sure your fluids are topped off and all your light bulbs are working, but the above are my top three based on my own personal experiences. The reality is that car maintenance isn't cheap. But you can't skimp on yourself or the precious cargo you need to haul around from day to day and for the fun stuff. If you happen to be in the market for a new set of tires like me tire maker, Hankook, is offering a significant rebate on qualifying tires via their 2013 ‘Great Catch’ Mail-in Rebate offer.

Where do you like to go on road trips during the summer? What is your number one suggestion for getting your car summer-ready to hit the road?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hankook Tires. The opinions and text are all mine.

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