Technician of the Year Offers Summer Driving Tips

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Summer has always been a time when most Americans take their vacations and take extended road trips. This tradition will no doubt be observed this season even with the price of gasoline increasing. But before hitting the roads, it is of utmost importance that one should consider checking their cars for potential threat of malfunctions.

The National Automotive Parts Association 2007 Technician of the Year Kit Johnson has some pieces of advice to offer to drivers who are planning to get away for the summer. Johnson is from East Helena, Montana. The distinguished technician offers maintenance tips to car owners to make sure that their road trips will not be ruined by a car malfunction.

"Hitting the pavement and seeing the country from your car is one of America's most time-honored traditions," said Johnson. "Unfortunately, some people end up on the side of the road because they forget to do simple preparations before the trip to keep their vehicle up and running."

One of the things that a Johnson advices car owner to do would be to have their car's cooling system checked. The system should be flushed and filed with the proper coolant before hitting the open road.

An automobile's cooling system is of utmost importance to its proper functioning. The radiator is the heart of the system and it should be checked for leaks. The coolant in the radiator is circulated throughout the engine via a closed system. The coolant takes away heat from engine components and is then cooled in the radiator before going back into its cycle inside the engine.

Aside from the cooling system which when maintained properly will significantly reduce the risk of overheating, Johnson also advises motorists to check the belts and hoses in the engine bay. A frayed hose would mean a leak and a snapped belt would mean that motorists would have to pull to the side of the road for replacement. These simple preventive steps could save a driver from inconvenience of repairing these problems while on the road.

Fluids should also be checked and topped off. Antifreeze, although impractical due to the weather should also be topped off. This is because antifreeze usually has anti-corrosion properties. Engine oil should also be checked to make sure that the powerplant would perform efficiently. Power steering, brake, and transmission fluid should also be checked and topped off or changed if needed.

As the price of gasoline increases continually, Johnson advises motorists to be mindful of any leaks coming from the car. Motorists should be especially wary if fuel or oil is leaking. Johnson says "even the smallest leak can turn into a large hole in the wallet if not caught and fixed."

Johnson also said that the load is a factor for a car's fuel efficiency. The world-class technician said that if you do not need a certain cargo, you should just leave it. According to him, an extra 100 pounds of load can reduce fuel economy by one to two percent on many cars. While the savings may be small, it will add up especially if one is going on an extended road trips.

An efficient brake system should also be a part of a car that should be taken on an extended road trip. A competent would go a long way in keeping a motorist safe on a trip.

"Drivers should read their owner's manual and keep up with regular service checks," he said. "It's important to maintain your vehicle throughout the year so that your vehicle is ready for those long summer drives."