You might be ready for warm weather, road trips, and midnight drives, but is your car? Make sure that your vehicle can keep up with you this summer by giving it the TLC it needs.
Run through our list of summer car care tips to ready your road companion for the heat.
To keep costs down, set aside time to do some maintenance, like changing your oil, yourself.
Fast, Free Auto Insurance Quotes
Under the Hood Essentials
Oil: Check your oil level regularly—and always before you take your car on a trip—by parking your vehicle on level ground and looking at your oil level. Do this while your motor is off and your engine is cool. If your oil is low or dirty, replenish or change it.
Coolant: Your car’s most difficult job this summer will be staying cool. You can help by keeping up with your cooling system maintenance. Coolant should be changed annually. If you’re changing it yourself, replace it with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water, or purchase a pre-mixed coolant solution. Remember to never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
Belts and hoses: Your car also relies on belts and hoses to stay cool; if a belt or a hose breaks it may cause your car to overheat. You can check the belts and hoses yourself for signs of deterioration: cracks, fraying, and excessive softness mean that it’s time for a replacement.
Air filter: Air filters should be changed every 12,000 miles. If yours looks excessively dirty, it’s time to swap it out.
Battery: You may have had to jump your car in the winter cold, but hot weather can also wreak havoc on your car battery. Summer heat can evaporate battery fluid and and destroy the battery’s structure. Counteract damage by keeping your car battery clean and cool.
Is Your Car Tired Out?
Tires: Tires are especially susceptible to wear and tear that can lead to blowouts in summer heat. Keep them maintained—meaning properly inflated and regularly rotated—for best results.
When you head to fill up your tires, check your owner’s manual to find the proper tire pressure for your car, rather than using the maximum pressure listed on the tire itself.
Spare: Don’t forget about your spare! After all, a backup won’t do much good if it’s in need of repair itself. Make sure that your spare is ready to roll with proper pressure and traction in case of emergency.
Safercar.gov has more information on how to keep your tires properly maintained.
All in the Details
These details aren’t frivolous. You’ll want to make sure you check these items off your car-care-list.
Undercarriage: Clean where the sun don’t shine. Yes, we’re talking about the undercarriage of your car. If your town got snow this winter, the minerals used to melt snow may have built up on the bottom of your vehicle. This build-up makes it more difficult for your car to cool properly. Clean it yourself with a hose or head to a car wash with an undercarriage wash option.
Wipers: If your windshield wipers were hard at work this winter scraping away snow and ice, it might be time to replace them. Especially if you drive in an area that is prone to summer rain, check to make sure that your wipers are in good shape.
Air conditioning: Of course you want proper air conditioning to make hot summer drives more pleasant. But if you need more reasons to fix a broken air conditioning system: a cool interior decreases risk of driver fatigue and is more aerodynamic than driving with the windows down, especially on the highway.
Follow through with your car’s summer maintenance, and your vehicle will stand a better chance of keeping up with your summer plans.