According to a 2019 AAA travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans are planning to take a family vacation this year, and half of those families expect to pack up their cars for a road trip. With driving demand at an all-time high during the peak driving season months of May through August, there are a few pre-road trip tips to keep in mind, especially for diesel vehicles, when gearing up for summer travel.
Whether you’re hauling your boat to the nearest lake or driving cross-country for college orientation, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure the diesel vehicle working hard to get you there is ready.
1. Ensure a smooth transition
As we move from the cold winter months to warm summer months, diesel vehicle drivers should add an appropriate antifreeze and water mix into their diesel engine’s coolant system. A 50/50 prediluted antifreeze and coolant mix is ideal to prepare for summer driving, allowing for good heat transfer, or cooling, in the engine especially if you’re towing a boat, a trailer or any number of heavy hauls in the hot summer months.
Using a prediluted antifreeze and coolant mix will help ensure you’re not accidentally concentrating one over the other, as too much antifreeze won’t deliver a good heat transfer and too much water could cause coolant system problems. Talk to your mechanic or refer to your vehicle owner’s manual about the correct amount for your vehicle.
2. Don’t ignore your tires and brakes
In cold winter weather, air will condense, leading people to fill tires with more air than during warmer temperatures. Because of this, drivers should make sure tire pressure as well as tread depth is up to recommendation as we transition to warm weather. Don’t forget to check your spare tire as well. Many forget that a spare tire also has a life expectancy and even if you don’t use it, the environment can affect it and it might need to be replaced.
Proper brake pad maintenance is also critical for your safety and for the longevity of your vehicle. While you should have your brake pads checked regularly, it’s also important to be mindful of any vibrations coming from the brake pedal or steering wheel when braking. If you believe your brakes are not as responsive as they should be, or you need longer stopping distances, you should have your brake pads checked prior to a long road trip. This is especially important as more stress will be placed on the brake system when hauling heavy loads.
3. Additional load requires additional prep work
Checking the components of your towing system before a road trip is essential. As we enter the summer months, ensuring your hitch is structurally sound is especially important given corrosion is more likely to occur during the winter, specifically in the colder geographies where road deicers are used. This is also a good time to make sure the electrical system is set up properly and brake lights are functioning correctly. If you’re towing a boat, you should know when the last maintenance check was done, especially on the wheel ends to make sure your vehicle and trailer are in good working condition.
4. Pay attention to aerodynamics
A more aerodynamic vehicle will put less stress on the engine and improve fuel economy, especially when driving on the highway. Variables such as how you choose to use the storage area on top of your vehicle and the type of trailer you use can alter the aerodynamics drastically. This does not matter as much if you’re taking a quick trip in the city. Small adjustments like reducing your speed on the highway if you’re traveling with a heavy load or using low-profile aerodynamic roof luggage carriers versus bulkier carriers to make the air flow smoother will make your vehicle more aerodynamic on the road.
5. Use a fuel designed to take you further
Don’t overlook the type of fuel you put in your vehicle. The bread and butter of a smooth summer road trip is using a fuel that’s formulated to keep your diesel engine running cleaner, ultimately helping to improve mileage. Using an additized diesel fuel, such as Synergy Diesel Efficient (SDE) from your nearest Exxon or Mobil station, can help deliver cleaner fuel injectors resulting in reduced emissions, enhanced engine power and can even help lower maintenance costs over time*. Your fuel selection matters and addressing the variables that impact your vehicle’s performance will give you peace of mind when road tripping.
Source: ExxonMobil Synergy Diesel Efficient™
*Disclaimer: Synergy Diesel Efficient claims are based on internal and third-party vehicle engine testing, laboratory testing, and/or industry or other scientific literature. Basis for comparison for all claims is versus diesel without additive. Vehicle type, engine type, driving behavior and other factors also impact fuel and vehicle performance, emissions and fuel economy. Synergy Diesel Efficient may be used in heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles but results may vary.