Skid Marks

Preparing for long drives this summer


With summer right in the thick of things, it’s a great time to enjoy a vacation that begins with a long drive.

We’ve got tons of beautiful scenic places to visit here in the Philippines, and we can appreciate our country’s natural charm and beauty further by driving to our location.

With this in mind, here are some tips to keep your summer driving escapades safe and convenient.

1. Keep your car in tip-top shape.

Drop by the dealership, and have your vehicle’s service schedule updated. A tune-up/change oil, complete with fresh fuel, oil and air filters is the way to go.

Even if your next PMS schedule is a month or 1,000 kilometers away, it’s best to have it done early so the dealership can thoroughly check and prep your car for a long driving adventure.

Any reputable independent service shop can also check your vehicle thoroughly, so this should be your first stop before embarking on a long driving adventure.

2. Have your car’s engine cooling system checked, topped up, or flushed and replaced.

The engine is most inefficient when things are hot. Thus, make sure your coolant and distilled water mix is topped up, there are no leaks from the radiator hoses and radiator cap, and the clamps holding the hoses are tight with no weeping/seeping from the joints.

You can replace your fan-belts, too, if the main engine fan is driven by the engine via a belt.

Same with the tensioners; make sure they’re spinning freely.

If your radiator’s fins are heavily bruised, warped, bent or damaged, it might be time to replace your radiator.

You’ll be surprised by how much cooler your engine runs, and how much more fuel-efficient it will be if the engine is running cool.

3. Have your car’s air-conditioning system cleaned.

A number of speciality shops and car dealerships can service your a/c system even if nothing seems wrong.

By cleaning the a/c system’s parts using a mix of speciality chemicals and machines, your a/c will feel much cooler, and operate much more efficiently, helping your engine run much more efficiently.

Remember, an a/c compressor for most cars is driven by the engine. If there’s any form of parasitic drag, or if the a/c system is continually tasked to operate at near maximum capacity, it will consume more power from the engine. So keep your a/c system in good health.

4. Replace your cabin filters.

For many modern cars, the cabin filter is a line of defence in keeping you’re a/c system functioning properly by trapping all the particulates inside your car and preventing it from sticking to the a/c system directly.

It also keeps germs and dust from entering the a/c system, and from being introduced back into your cabin.

If you’re feeling sick when riding/driving your car, chances are your a/c system is dirty, which needs servicing, and your cabin filter is not able to filter out germs anymore.

If left unattended, a clogged cabin filter can lead to long-term a/c system damage.

5. Get tint to block out the heat and sun.

Today’s line of tints are amazing: they can block out heat, sunlight, and crucially UV rays to keep you cool, healthy and comfortable.

A cooler interior will also help the a/c system from being over-taxed and over-worked, especially in an older car.

Tint is also a line of defence against smash-n-grab/break-ins as it can, to a certain extent, hold the glass in place even when it shatters.

And tint also helps privacy in crowded places.

6. Invest in a window shade.

Window shades are the cheapest and simplest means to avoid getting your interior fried when left out in the sun. They are foldable/collapsible and can easily be put away when you drive, perfect when leaving your car parked under the sun for hours.

Shades will also help reduce long-term wear and damage to your interior as well.

7. Air up your tires.

Most drivers often neglect their tires. With the blazing sun and a/c at full tilt, the engine gets quite a beating.

Underinflated tires can add more burden to your engine and impact a car’s fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent before you even notice something is drastically wrong.

So, air up your tires, check for the recommended tire pressure (found on the driver’s door frame or fuel tank flap), and get the most in fuel efficiency.

8. Pack the essentials.

Once you begin your long drive, make sure you have the following:

a complete set of tools, a pair of yellow and red early warning device (EWD), and a properly working vehicle jack with tire wrench;

a 12V mobile phone charger with cables;

a road map for those locations not covered by mobile signal;

a one-gallon bottle of distilled water for drinking and topping up of your radiator’s cooling system;

sunglasses, comfortable clothes and proper flat-soled footwear; and

a change of clothes and some cheap workman’s gloves.

Remove everything that’s not needed for your drive to ensure your car is as light as possible, thus helping save on fuel.
9. Plan your trip.

While overrated and often over-looked, a properly planned trip can make all the difference between questionably “adventurous” and hassle-free.

Plan your departure and arrival times, plan your route, identify your stopover points, and check if clean fuel is available along your routes so you know when to fill up.

Poor quality fuel can cause engine problems, leaving you stranded.

It’s also good to know where you can take a toilet break in a proper toilet, versus doing a number 2 in some dark, deserted place.

With a bit of time, planning, and some effort, your summer driving adventures can be so much more safer, convenient and hassle-free, making it a truly memorable driving experience and vacation.

Here’s to safe driving, and enjoy summer!

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