Gear up for summer
Canadians tend to drive more often – and further – in the summer. Packed with two and four-legged family members, extra gear, and depending on what we’re driving, perhaps with a small trailer or camper in tow – our vehicles play a big role in making summer fun possible.
In this article we offer tips covering two important summer driving issues: maintenance – relevant to all drivers – and towing, of particular interest to those with SUVs and crossovers.
Extra mileage means extra wear and tear on your vehicle. Get ready for summer road-and-recreational trips with the following routine maintenance checks. You’ll maximize your vehicle’s performance and optimize your fuel efficiency. And, if you have any scheduled maintenance coming due, take the time to get it done before you leave home – your dealer’s Goodwrench Service team can help.
Check your safety first aid kit
Ensure your first aid kit is properly equipped, the flashlight works and your batteries are okay.
Check tire pressure
While you should check your tire pressure monthly, you should also always check it before you leave the driveway for any trip. The correct tire pressure information is on the placard inside your driver’s side door, or in your glove-box – not on the side of your tire. Proper inflation will help increase your fuel efficiency and make your drive safer.
Note: Some GM models are equipped with tire pressure monitors, which display the tire pressure in the driver information centre.
Check tire tread wear
Most tires have built-in tread wear bars that help you determine tire life at a glance. If you can see the tire tread wear bars in 3 or more places around the tire or have less than 1.6mm of tire tread depth, you should get new tires. Use a proper tread depth gauge or visit your local dealer’s Goodwrench Service team for assistance.
Note: Tire pressure and tread depth gauges are inexpensive tools and are worth keeping in your glove box.
Correct wheel alignment and tire balance improves steering control, maximizes tire life and should be part of your routine maintenance schedule. If you sense your vehicle pulling to one side, you may need a wheel alignment.
You should have your brakes inspected at least once a year according to your vehicle owner’s manual, and it’s a great idea to get them checked before a summer full of driving. If you’re towing a trailer or small camper, you’ll be putting even more pressure on your brakes, so take the time to ensure they’re up to the task. Feeling out of control while going down a hill with a trailer behind you is no one’s idea of summer driving fun.
Your dealer’s Goodwrench Service team can perform thorough maintenance inspections which include all of the above inspections, as well as checking your fluid levels (including engine oil), inspecting your air conditioning system and even checking the condition of your wiper blades (very important when you find yourself peering through the windshield in the driving rain!).
Do you drive a GMC SUV or crossover? If so, summer recreation plans such as taking the SeaDoos™ to the lake, traveling to your favourite provincial park with a pop-up camper, or touring country antique sales with a small trailer all sound fantastic. But summer R & R here stands for “recreation and research,” and believe us, when it comes to towing, the two words go together. Follow these tips!
Know your vehicle’s towing capacity
Every vehicle has a maximum towing capacity and it’s crucial that you know what it is before you tow. Exceed towing capacity and you can seriously damage your engine, brakes, transmission, tires and suspension. You’ll also create unsafe driving conditions for yourself and the traffic around you. Your vehicle’s towing capacity is provided in your owner’s manual. Note that capacity can vary within a vehicle model by engine size.
GMC trucks, SUVs and crossovers include an available GM factory-installed trailering package.1 If you’re driving an Acadia, for example, the available trailering package includes a hitch receiver platform, an external transmission oil cooler, and wiring for your trailer’s electric brakes and lights. Acadia’s towing capacity with the factory-installed trailering package is 2,359 kg or 5,200 lb, enough to easily tow an average 20 ft. bowrider powerboat or your pop-up camper.
If you’re using a third-party hitch, or don’t have a factory-installed trailering package or a hitch, see your dealer for towing advice. Your dealer may be able to install a GM accessory hitch.
For SUV, Crossover and Truck owners, check towing capacity at our online trailering guide.
Before you head out on the highway, find an open space and practice backing up. It requires some counterintuitive thinking – turning your wheel left to get the trailer to go to the right doesn’t always come naturally. And then there’s relying on your mirrors... Better to learn in a stress-free environment than when you’re trying to park on a crowded street in a small tourist town, or backing a boat trailer down a launch.
Before you leave
- Inspect your trailer lights, brakes (if included) and hitch.
- Have your trailer tires, electric brakes (if equipped) and wheel bearings inspected at the start of each towing season.
- Inspect your safety chains. Remember that you are required by law to have both a hitch and safety chains attaching your trailer to your vehicle
unlessyou have a fifth-wheel hitch with a safety latch.
- Place heavier items towards the front, and don’t overload your trailer.
- Cover loose objects with a tarp and tie everything down – in many provinces it’s the law! GM Accessories has a selection of cargo nets, organizers and many truck bed products for securing cargo.
- Adjust your mirrors so you can see the traffic behind you.
- Slow down. The additional weight of your trailer means it will take longer to stop.
- Keep a distance of at least 3 seconds between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
- When passing, signal your pass well in advance and move gradually into the next lane. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle you’ve passed when you re-enter the lane. Avoid passing on steep grades, both up and down.
Happy summer traveling, everyone!
1 Packages vary by model. Note that if you use an after-market 3rd-party hitch without the trailering package, you won’t get the same maximum tow rating that you will with the factory-installed towing package.