Car owners tend to focus a great deal of effort on getting their vehicle ready for winter, forgetting that just as much preparation is needed to ensure that you car will run well during the summer. The added heat can do some serious damage to the components in your car when they are functioning in less than ideal conditions. Getting ready for drives across country or annual trips to the beach should include some of the following maintenance necessities.
The coolant level and mixture that is present under the hood is vital in the summer. A lack of proper fluids can cause problems with a variety of systems in the car. The engine can overheat due to a lack of fluid, damage can occur within the radiator as the temperature increases, and the air conditioning can stop working as effectively. The majority of automotive stores will sell coolant testing kits to ensure your mixture is healthy. In the Des Moines area, many drivers handle these kinds of maintenance and repairs by visiting All Pro Servicenter. We all can identify with the importance of a great air conditioner when things heat up. If you only perform one maintenance or repair before the summer begins, then it should be this one.
The other vital fluids of the engine should be checked and topped off as well. These liquids include the brake fluid, the engine oil, and your power steering fluid. The consistency and cleanliness of the fluids should also come under scrutiny. Dirty oil can be especially harmful during the summer. Already degraded oil will become even heavier and full of sludge when it is forced to operate in hot summer conditions. Finally, the start of the summer is a good time to check your battery for any lack of fluid or damage due to corrosion that is likely to have occurred during the winter and spring.
IS YOUR VEHICLE READY FOR SUMMER? HERE’S YOUR MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
To prepare your vehicle to deal with summer conditions and prevent eye-popping repair bills later, run through this vehicle checklist before driving on those harsh summer days.
- CHANGE YOUR OIL
You probably heard it from your dad a long time ago, and it’s just as true now as it was for his ’75 Buick wagon– get your motor oil changed at regular intervals. If anything, it’s more true now than it was then. If you’re still using conventional motor oil, a 3,000 to 5,000 mile interval between changes is good and for synthetic oil, intervals can be around 7,500 miles or more. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations on brand and weight of oil as well as oil change intervals. Some vehicles’ engines are actually engineered for the anti-corrosion agents, friction modifiers, gasket conditioners and other additives in proprietary formulations of motor oil. Using another type of oil can cause damage in the long run and can invalidate a warranty. Here are the current oil change specials.
- CHECK THE COOLANT
The coolant in your vehicle’s radiator works triple time in summer. In addition to keeping your car from overheating, coolant guards against corrosion and lubricates your water pump. However, coolant degrades and loses its effectiveness, so you should change out conventional coolant every one to two years, and extended life coolant every five years. Can’t remember the last time you changed your coolant? No worries. Use an antifreeze tester to check the quality. This video shows you how. Then read this handy guide to learn how to flush your radiator.
- TEST THE BATTERY
Summer can be harder on a battery than winter, so bring your battery to an Advance Auto Parts store near you for free testing. If you need a new battery, remember, we’ll install it for free when you purchase from us.
- CHECK THE A/C
Air conditioning systems have a way of quitting at the worst possible time. Take preemptive action and get your air-conditioning system checked before the summer months really heat up. Ask your trusted mechanic to run some diagnostic tests or learn to troubleshoot your A/C on your own. You can also review the basics for troubleshooting cooling system components.
- INSPECT THE TIRES
Check the tread on your vehicle’s tires. Rain-slick roads shorten stopping distances and impair maneuverability. Poor tire tread worsens both conditions, so replace your tires as needed. You should also rotate your tires and be sure to frequently check the air pressure.
Big temperature swings can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly. This can lead to inferior performance and reduced gas mileage. Make sure to check the pressure first thing in the morning. The heat of the day, and particularly driving, will inflate your tires a little and you want to check them when they’re cold.
- CHECK BELTS AND HOSES
Inspect your belts and hoses for evidence of damage, such as cracks, fraying, leakage, or swelling. The heat and humidity of summer will only make these conditions worse and may cause a breakdown.
- REPLACE WIPER BLADES
You’ll want a sturdy set of windshield wiper blades to ensure good visibility during summer thunderstorms. Replace your blades if they’re showing signs of wear, including splitting, cracking, or skipping, or if they’re more than six months old.
- INSPECT THE BRAKES
Road trips to the mountains and towing boats or trailers will put your brakes to the test this summer. Make sure they ace the exam, with a basic checkup.