Essential Car Maintenance Before a Long Road Trip

Family of four loading up car in preparation for a road tripDriving to Yellowstone National Park for a summertime getaway with the family? Jumping in the car for a Fourth of July beach trip? If so, you’ll be sharing the road with millions of excited road-trippers.

To make your summer road trip as smooth as possible, you’ll want to take care of your car so that it can take care of you. Tackle these five important maintenance services before you head out on a long drive to help ensure you reach your destination without a hitch.

1. Maintain the exhaust system.

Never thought to check the condition of your exhaust system? The middle of nowhere isn’t a place you want to wish that you had. A faulty exhaust system could mean poor fuel efficiency, decreased power, and sometimes, improper venting of the poisonous gases that your engine produces.

If you’ve been hearing engine noises like popping and hissing, checking your exhaust system is vital to road trip success. The noises could signal problems with the exhaust manifold, muffler, tailpipe, or catalytic converter.

And if you’re not hearing engine noises? It’s still a good idea to have a technician look at your car’s exhaust system before a long trip.

“Vehicles that are 5 or more years old should have their exhaust systems checked by a professional every year or two, even if nothing feels or sounds bad,” advises

You don’t want to exhaust yourself having to get a broken-down car fixed during your vacation.

2. Adjust the steering and suspension.

There’s more to a smooth drive than keeping the kids entertained. (But hey, we have that covered, too! Check out these crafty kid-friendly games and road trip activities that are actually fun for the whole family.)

Loose steering parts, damaged shocks or struts, broken or worn-out mounts or bushings, and vehicle swaying or bouncing could throw a wrench in your summer plans—and make for a really bumpy trip.

Before you hit the road, point your dash in the direction of a professional who can examine your car’s steering and suspension system to ensure a smooth ride to your vacation destination.

3. Examine the tires and alignment.

Get your kicks on Route 66. Not a flat tire.

Getting a flat tire is one of the most common reasons that drivers call roadside assistance. To help prevent a flat-tire disaster, ask a trained technician to inspect your alignment and tires, including the spare.

Among other things, a tire check includes a look at:

  • Tire Pressure: Is the tire pressure set to what’s recommended in your owner’s manual? An under- or overinflated tire can lead to a variety of issues, such as a bumpy ride, premature wear, overheating and, worst of all, a tire blowout.
  • Tire Wear: Is your tire tread in good condition? Are the tire wear patterns uneven? You can’t depend on your tires if the tread isn’t deep enough or there’s too much wear to gain traction on the road.

A tire inspection could also reveal misalignment, which can decrease the lifespan of your tires and reduce fuel efficiency.

4. Give your brakes a break.

The braking system is one of the most critical safety features of your car. But like many other car parts, it can overheat and put your family at risk—especially if it hasn’t been serviced in a while.

Make sure the braking system is in tip-top shape before you and your family hop in the car and head out for a summer drive. You never know what kind of conditions you might encounter on a long road trip, from stop-and-go city traffic to animals crossing the desert highway.

A thorough brake check can get to the bottom of brake warning signs like grinding, squeaking, steering-wheel shaking, and sponginess when the brake pedal is applied. This includes an examination of the brake pads, rotors, drums, hoses, and brake fluid.

5. Perform general maintenance.

Don’t overlook the seemingly little items that could put a roadblock in your summer road trip. Among other things, a trained technician can check your car’s:

  • Fluid levels, like engine oil and coolant
  • Spark plugs
  • Cabin, fuel, and air filters
  • Battery charge

Once you address these five maintenance tasks—whether they result in tweaks, repairs, or replacements—you can relax and truly enjoy your long summer road trip. Pro tip? Take care of everything with a Complete Vehicle Inspection at Firestone Complete Auto Care. And if you need us during your journey, we’re probably not far. We have more than 1,700 locations across the country.

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The Best Motor Oils For 2019

1) Valvoline – Best Conventional Oil

From $5 per quart
When looking for a motor oil, why not choose one from the company that invented the product? Valvoline founder Dr. John Ellis is credited as the inventor of motor oil, creating products for steam engines and later worked with Ford to make a formulation for the Model T.

The company’s in-house development team continues to be at the leading edge of lubrication technology, working together with motorsport teams to meet the demands of their engines while also spearheading the development of formulations that improve the performance of high mileage engines.

Valvoline NextGenvalvoline-nextgen meets all the standards for a conventional oil, but it costs less than many major brands and is made with 50 percent recycled oil.

When Scientific American reported on the oil when it first came to market, they found that the refining techniques used to create this formulation allowed it to meet all the API requirements as a standard motor oil. Since then, other options using recycled base oils have hit the market, allowing buyers to maintain their vehicles while having a lower impact on the environment.

Valvoline is one of the few oil manufacturers who backup their high mileage oil with a guarantee. If your engine has under 125,000 miles on it, you can register it in a program that will give you some valvoline-maxlife-5w30warranty protection from the company provided that you keep up on maintenance records and only use their oil.

Valvoline MaxLife SAE 5W30 – Using the latest breakthroughs in distillation, this engine formulation is engineered for the issues facing high mileage engines. This oil helps by reducing friction, removing corrosive deposits and helps prevent oil leaks.

2) Mobil 1 – Best Synthetic Engine Oil

From $5 per quart
mobil-1-10w30-synthetic-oilThe best synthetic motor oil (just beating out the Amsoil mentioned below), is Mobil 1 10W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.

Many of the cars in top level motorsports use Mobil 1. The company prides itself on its motorsports partnerships. They make the official engine oil of NASCAR and they’re the oil sponsor of McLaren-Honda’s F1 team. Their testing and development of oils designed for demanding racing conditions has worked its way into their consumer products.

Their synthetics are great at maintaining a low viscosity in very cold temperatures, and they’ve led the way in developing oils formulated for turbocharged engines. Turbocharged motors are notorious for high oil consumption due to the extreme heat generated by the turbo bearings, and with their adoption across the industry as a way to increase fuel efficiency, this is becoming an issue for not just sports cars, but regular consumer cars and trucks as well.

The best engine oils are synthetics like Mobil 1, Valvoline SynPower and Castrol Edge. Despite being highly refined and processed, they can be fairly affordable if you keep an eye out for sales and rebates.

There are also higher-end synthetic oils like Royal Purple, Motul and Amsoil. While they’re often touted by armchair enthusiasts on online forums for their supposed superior protection, there is little concrete evidence to back up these claims. However, they offer at least the same level of protection as more affordable, widely available synthetics.

All that said, if your car and driving habits don’t demand the added protection of a synthetic, there’s no harm saving money by using a conventional oil.

3) Castrol GTX HM – Best Motor Oil for Older, High Mileage Cars

From $6 per quart
castrol-gtx-high-mileageNo matter how well lubricated the inside of your engine is, the metal components will wear down and internal seals will dry and shrink over time, allowing oil to get into places where it will burn away or leak out.

It used to be common practice to use thicker oils as engines got older, but these formulations cause extra strain on the oil pump and don’t reach all the pathways to fully lubricate the engine. That means rather than fixing the problem, they can actually accelerate engine wear.

Contrary to popular belief, a synthetic won’t slip through these spaces more easily and burn faster than a conventional oil. Synthetic and conventional oils with the same viscosity will flow exactly the same way. For high mileage engines, there’s a better alternative to either of these: semi-synthetic oil.

Castrol GTX HM doesn’t just work better in older engines, it adheres to parts longer, offering better protection when starting an engine after a long period of sitting. This makes it a great choice for older vehicles that are only used occasionally such as antique cars and winter beaters.

4) Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil – Best Oil for Diesel Engines

From $8 per quart
royal-purple-5w30-high-performance-oilRoyal Purple is almost unheard-of outside of racing circles, but independent tests show their oils are able to keep up with oils offered by the industry’s leaders. Hot Rod magazine has experimented with their lubricants and managed to get more power out of a classic car and improving the fuel economy on a late model Ford pickup by switching to their oil and transmission fluid. While not a thorough test of their products’ capabilities, these tests are much better than the speculation surrounding most oil claims.

5) Quaker State

From $5 per quart
Valvoline and Castrol may offer semi-synthetic high mileage formulations, but Quaker State has gone the extra mile, creating conventional, synthetic blend and full synthetic oils all designed for older vehicles, allowing buyers choose the trade off between price and performance that works for them. There are many supporters of their Defy High Mileage blends who have run the oil in vehicles that have anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles on their engines.

6) Total Motor Oil

From $8 per quart
total-quartz-5w30Total may not be a big name in the U.S, but they’re a major player in Europe thanks to their extensive petroleum operations.  If you follow any motorsports outside of America, you’re probably familiar with the brand as they’ve sponsored Red Bull’s F1 team since 2009. That’s the same team that won the constructor’s championship title, and whose driver, Sebastian Vettel, took the driver’s championship title that same year.

They’re also involved in rally racing, supporting Citroën’s efforts for over 20 years. Here in the states, they recently became the top sponsor for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) racing series, a top level North American-based motorsport that was formerly known as Grand-Am racing. Like Mobil, they’re able to apply their experience developing oils for severe racing conditions to create formulas that meet the demands of regular consumer vehicles.

7) Pennzoil Motor Oil

From $4 per quart
pennzoil-platinum-5w30-full-syntheticWhile other manufacturers concentrate on lubrication performance, Pennzoil’s development aims at reducing the formation of sludge to keep the inside of the engine as clean as possible. That translates to lower friction, maintaining power and fuel economy.

There’s more to this strategy than just marketing. The brand works hand-in-hand with automotive manufacturers to develop oils for their engines and recently became the official oil supplier for Ferrari. There could be few better endorsements than the approval of one of the world’s top supercar manufacturers, and even if you aren’t going to run out and buy one of these vehicles, the resulting marketing campaigns with IMSA driver Rhys Millen tearing around Barcelona in a 488 GTB are great fun to watch. Using Pennzoil may not turn your commuter into a V12 sports car, but there’s no doubt it will protect your engine.

8) Amsoil Synthetic Motor Oil

From $7 per quart
amsoil-signature-series-5w-30When did you first hear about synthetic oil? The 2000s? The 90s? Amsoil led the way, bringing lubrication technology developed for fighter jets to the automotive market in the 1970s, beating their competitors by almost two decades. Their synthetic formulations were the first to be recognized by the American Petroleum Institute, the same API that formulates all the standard performance tests for oil that automakers design their engines and lubrication systems around. Despite this leading position, the company has remained a small, family-owned enterprise with a focus on quality over sales.

Since it was founded, the company has stayed at the leading edge of oil development, concentrating on motorsports applications. Instead of working with a single high high profile series, they sponsor a wide range of racing events in the U.S. and Canada including motocross, Sprint Cup, Canadian Snowcross Racing and numerous off-roading events.


According to promotional materials and advertisements, each brand and formulation of engine oil is the best oil, offering unparalleled engine protection, fuel economy and performance. The truth is that almost every motor oil on the market these days meets the same API standards and can provide the protection our vehicles need, so long as they meet the specifications of the automobile’s manufacturer.

Since oil manufacturers do their testing internally and secretly and there’s no standardization other than the API’s requirements, any advantage a particular formulation may have is hard to determine as the information available is speculative at best.

No matter what oil you choose, always compare the manufacturer’s recommendations with the API “donut” seal on the back of the oil container. This seal will include the service category, oil viscosity, and whether or not the oil formulation is “energy conserving,” which means it reduces friction for improved fuel economy. As long as the requirements of your engine are met, the oil is safe to use in your vehicle.

June 2019 Issue

June 2019

The Article Was Generated and First Appeared On National Oil & Lube News

Buyers Guide 2019/2020

Buyers Guide

The Article Was Generated and First Appeared On National Oil & Lube News

Lube and auto shop gets some press in N.J.

The Asbury Park Press has a business story featuring Joe’s Towing and Auto Pit Crew Lube in Brick, N.J.

When owner Joe Ocello was 20, he bought the family auto shop from his father. He sold that in 1984 and got into the gas station business, which landed him at the current location, the Press reported.

Now the shop has a dedicated quick lube shop as part of the operation, which also includes mechanical repair, car rentals, a gas station and some accessory installation. The shop has worked to keep up with customers’ expectations of service.

“Things also move faster than ever and you can have parts delivered on the spot within an hour,” co-owner Jesse Georgaklis told the Press. “People expect that today, so we work hard to ensure that our customers receive high-quality and prompt service, with many of our repairs completed same-day.”

The owners said they’ve also worked to give back to the community, mentoring students at high schools and vo-techs and fixing up a van to donate to a family. It sounds like the folks at Joe’s have no intention of slowing down.

Photo: Joe’s Towing and Auto Pit Crew Lube

The Article Was Generated and First Appeared On National Oil & Lube News