You may know about “winterizing” your vehicle, but do you “summer-ize” your vehicle? Summertime is here, and that means summer vacations and summer travel season. But long drives, especially in extreme heat, can be rough on your vehicle. Before you hit the road for your favorite summer destinations, check out this list of maintenance suggestions:
10. Check your tires. Tire pressure changes with rising temperatures approximately one to two PSI for every 10 degree increase in outside air temperature. An under-inflated tire bulges outward and puts undo pressure on the tire sidewall. With enough heat and pressure, the tire will eventually blow. Over-inflated tires make less contact with the road surface and can cause hydroplaning during summer thunderstorms.
9. Change oil and oil filter. Oil keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Before you take that long distance summer road trip, check your oil. Heavy driving mixed with high temperatures can lead to an overheated engine.
8. De-Winterize your car. Lose the snow tires. Snow tires are heavy and will lower your fuel economy. If you haven’t driven your car very much during the winter months, it is a good idea to check all the fluid levels to make sure that there aren’t any leaks. It’s also important to clean the undercarriage of the car, especially if you are in a snowy climate. The salt that is used to melt ice and snow on roads can get caked on the underside of your car and begin to eat away at the metal.
7. Check hoses and belts. The key to successful summer driving is keeping the engine cool. If hoses crack or belts snap, the radiator can quickly overheat. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections as well as doing visual checks on belts for cracks and damages.
6. Change the air filter. Over the winter, your air filter can get clogged with salt and road debris. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.
5. Replace your windshield wipers. The summer months are notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When water is beating against your windshield in buckets, your wipers NEED to work. This is true in daytime, but more so at night, when a storm can decrease visibility by 15 to 20 feet in front of your vehicle.
4. Check your brakes. Your brakes are probably the single most important safety mechanism on your car. If you notice a brake problem, it pays to have it inspected or repaired as soon as possible. The cost of a brake repair service increases dramatically if even minor problems aren’t fixed in a timely manner.
3. Check the coolant and radiator. Cars are designed to run pretty hot, but there is a limit to just how hot they should run. If an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of engine problems.
2. Clean your battery. Dead batteries are fairly common during the winter months. But the hot summer months are tough on your battery, too. Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing the battery to be overcharged. This significantly reduces battery life. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals. Make sure that the battery is strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure. If you need to replace your battery, make sure it is the right battery type for your specific vehicle.
1. Maintain your air conditioning. The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused by a leak in the system. Since modern AC systems are complex, it’s best to have a professional check out the problem.
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