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Summer driving tips

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer March 15,2020

With summer practically here, and with COVID-19 fears rampant, local driveable tourism out in the outdoors will most likely boom as school will soon be out, Holy Week Holidays setting in and people wanting to escape from the confines of the city. Here are some basic tips to ensure you and your car are ready:

Fresh PMS Servicing—bring your car to the dealership or your favorite independent mechanic to have the car thoroughly checked: fluids new or topped up, filters still clean and useable, belts still tight, and all your bolts and fasteners tight. Give special attention to the cooling system: the monstrous traffic jams will force many cars to overheat during summer. Fill up with distilled water and coolant, check all the belts for leaks, check, tighten or replace the hose clamps while you’re at it.

If your car is more than five years old, consider getting a Lavramon chemical coolant flush procedure on your engine and radiator. The metals in your engine react with the coolant and creates mineral formations inside the engine which impede coolant flow and heat absorption. The Lavramon flush dissolves these chemicals and flushes it out of your engine and radiator. You can gain a whole lot of cooling efficiency back. While your car is being serviced, I recommend a quick engine wash. Why? Because if your car has any leaks or blow-by gasses escaping, it’ll be easier to see and detect and crucially fix, when your engine bay is clean.

Have your A/C system thoroughly cleaned—it’s summer, and many A/C systems are truly put to the test during these coming hot months. Have a professional technician clean all the major A/C components, replace the A/C cabin filters if your car is so equipped, and scrub off the grime from the A/C condenser.

Steam clean and anti-bacteria clean the interior—since you’ll be spending a lot of time inside the car, make sure the interior is fresh and clean! Steam cleaning and anti-bacterial cleaning the inside will take no more than an hour, but will eliminate bad odors and crucially, kill all harmful germs and bacteria. This is best done when you have the A/C system cleaned, since the A/C’s ventilation will suck in air from inside the cabin in recirculate mode.

When both the interior and A/C are clean, you can be assured that your interior will be safe, hygienic and pleasant to spend long hours in.

Check your wheels and tires—check your tires for wear. Ideally they should have at least 4/32 inches, or roughly 3.172 millimeters of tread depth left in them. Anything less, and you should change them as the tires won’t be able to channel water safely out in the event of rain. You can bring your car and have the tires checked at a tire shop for this. You should also rotate your tires, and have it checked for even wear. And have it aligned.

Finally, air them up to as firm as possible within the recommended specs. Ride might be harsher, but the inflated tires will be able to carry more weight safely, and deliver very good fuel mileage / consumption, saving you some money on your long drive.

You should also check the general condition of the tires: any cracks or bumps, and they should be replaced regardless of age and tread depth. And if you are using the sames tires for five years already, it is generally a good idea to replace them as tire rubber becomes brittle over age and time. Don’t forget to check the inner sides of your wheels and tires, and don’t forget to check the condition of your spare wheel and tire too!

Check / replace your battery—summer is very hard on batteries: intense heat, A/C and other electrical accessories at full blast, and stuck in traffic jams all conspire to shorten the life of your battery. Bring it to a battery shop where they can test the battery and replace it as needed. Invest in a car battery charger, too, as this can easily double the lifetime of your car’s battery.

Make sure your vehicle registration is updated—since you’re going far away on a long drive, make sure your vehicle registration is updated; sometimes we forget, and sometimes we go through check-points. If your registration isn’t updated, you can be hassled and can keep you from enjoying your drive.

Pack the essentials—car is ready, you’re all set, but don’t forget the essentials: a complete toolkit for your car, jack, wrench, a flashlight, your early warning devices (two pieces, red and yellow), a first-aid kit, some washcloth, worker’s or mechanic’s gloves, and a gallon of distilled water for drinking, cleaning and topping up your cooling system. It’s also essential to pack an actual road-map especially if you’re going to places with poor mobile phone and data coverage, a mobile-phone car charger, and a power-bank with the requisite charging cables.

Due to the COVID-19 fears, it’s also a good idea to bring a large pack of wet-wipes, regular tissue paper and a bottle of alcohol. You never know when you might need these!

So now that you’ve prepped your car, packed the essentials and confident it will bring you to and from your destination, the next question is, where to?

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