4 car maintenance checks to do before the next summer road trip

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Car problems are troublesome. Nobody wants to deal with maintenance or repairs, but delaying both has the potential to cause more damage – and more expensive repairs – down the road.

We want to help you gain the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and give you some tips for saving a few bucks down the road. This is part of our new “Summer Savings” segment which airs every Thursday on “Good Day Orlando”.

Our first subject: car maintenance.

Florida sees a lot of rain during the summer, followed by the start of hurricane season on June 1.

To prepare, there are a few maintenance checks everyone should perform on their car:

  • Check car battery
  • Check windshield wipers
  • Replace air filter
  • Check the tires

Before setting off on a summer road trip, it is important to have your vehicle’s battery checked. Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Some major auto repair shops, such as Firestone and Discount Tire, will perform battery checks for free.

If you need a new one, costs can vary between $70 and $100 depending on where you go. Don’t be afraid to call and compare costs.

During an oil change, the mechanic will often ask if you want to change one of the cabin air filters (that’s where you sit) or the engine.

Should it be done?

Larry Perry, president of Magic Mechanic in Orlando, said yes, it’s worth trading in and the cost is usually $20-$25, depending on where you’re going.

Leaving the filter dirty can cause the engine to work harder – which could impact fuel mileage – and leaving the cabin air filter dirty can cause the car’s interior to smell.

“What eventually happens is that your fuel mixture will get really rich and you’ll start to burn a lot of fuel,” Perry said.

“Who needs to burn three miles less for a gallon right now?”

And the wiper blades? Ultimately, if they don’t get rid of water on the windshield when it rains, that’s a clear sign that they need to be replaced.

You can also check the rubber at the bottom of the blade. If it’s not smooth or leans to one side, it’s probably no longer good.

Perry – who has spent decades working on cars – says to run your hand over the blade to do a quick test to see if you need to spend or save.

“When it goes through a piece of glass, it’s going to squeak and not be a nice clean squeegee,” Perry said. Many wiper blades should last around a year, which means you should probably expect replacement to be an annual expense.

Finally, keep vehicle tires properly inflated.

Under-inflated tires could blow out, which can be dangerous on the road, but can also cost a lot more, especially if you get stuck and need a tow.

“More fuel consumption trying to push an underinflated tire,” he said.

Discount Tire performs free air checks. Some gas stations offer free air, but not all.

AAA has estimated that the average cost for common auto repairs is between $500 and $600, although this also depends on many factors, such as the level of repair and the mechanic.

AAA recommends people set aside $50 for each helper to cover routine maintenance or unscheduled repairs.

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