Springtime! So many of our clients will have canoes strapped to the rack of their Honda Element. The boxy SUV will be fairly smashed to the ground with camping gear. A road trip is usually on the docket for Memorial Day weekend, and you see these vehicles struggling happily for a summit, trailhead or river put-in.
This is how we Alaskans do it. I mean, trucks have their place. But what cannot a Subaru Outback do?
If you watch the Richardson Highway this weekend, you’ll see there is not much a Subaru suspension cannot support. You’ve seen them—station wagons pulling boats, hauling water, hauling a trailer with garden dirt… Later in the season we will see many a Subaru Impreza—-coolers strapped where skis once were—-accompanied by a few dip nets, just for cool effect.
Getting out is a must, don’t get us wrong. It does wear on suspension parts. This is normal for a SPORT-UTILITY VEHICLE that makes more than grocery runs and trips to the office or school! Just like a parka that ends up with pin holes patched with vapor barrier tape (because it actually gets worn OUTDOORS where there are pokey sticks and campfires), operated as intended, cars need maintenance.
When we figure maintenance on vehicles as a function of access to time spent outdoors, it ends up being pennies per hour added to a vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Literally pennies per hour over the life of a vehicle! Come on in. We will do the math with you. We think about this a lot.
Why does a firm ride matter to Summer fun? Lolling through the frost heaves works? Sometimes your KIA Soul catches a little air? Meh.
Here is the problem: Suspension components that are fatigued result in vehicles with compromised handling abilities. Worn struts, springs, and shocks produce aggressive body roll, which is exacerbated by the added weight of gear.
A suspension system that is not tightly maintained is dangerous: When we unexpectedly encounter a moose or icy patch, we cannot control the lateral movement of the car body with the steering wheel. This is what “losing control” looks like.
Safety is altogether inexpensive when compared with losing control.* Come in for an underbody inspection and alignment check either before or after a summer adventure. Top of the World Highway, Dempster Highway, Denali Highway and Haul Road are all dirt highways in Alaska. These are the on-ramp to adventure. They provide different maintenance requirements for the driver. Washboard, pot holes, gravel, chemical dust suppressant additives—all of these produce unusual vehicle wear.
GO, go, gooo! GET OUTSIDE! It is Spring and we have 12 weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day, in which to relax. But remember, let us help you clean up after one adventure and get ready for next. So have fun Fairbanks. But let us take care of the SUV you actually use as a Sport Utility Vehicle!
*(Here’s some incentive: Bring your adventure vehicle in for an underbody/alignment inspection and get a free METRO T-Shirt!)