Summer is here: you might be ready, but is your car? High temperatures and hot asphalt can be a killer combo if your car isn’t properly prepared. Luckily, a smooth summer ride is almost a sure thing if you keep the following tips in mind while you enjoy the warmth and the scenery:
Start with a Clean Slate:
If you frequently drive in an area where the roads are heavily salted during the winter, there’s a good chance you have salt residue built up on your car’s undercarriage. Once the weather warms up, give your undercarriage a good cleaning. It’s also a good idea to remove any dirt or debris in easy-to-forget places such as the door jambs, around the trunk and the area where the windshield meets the hood.
Get the Right Gear:
If you’re still riding around on winter tires, now is the time to change over to either summer or all-season tires. Make sure those summer tires are inflated to the proper PSI for best wear and gas mileage. Tires aren’t the only pieces of rubber you need to replace; windshield wiper blades are almost always forgotten about until they are needed during a sudden summer downpour. Change yours twice a year and you won’t be caught in the next storm with streaky windows and poor visibility.
Your car’s coolant system and air conditioning are the two most important systems keeping you and your car cool.
- It’s a good idea to have the coolant system checked by a professional. If this isn’t possible, there are simple steps you can take yourself. Start by clearing out any leaves or debris around your radiator. Make sure the water pump and any hoses are in good shape and free of bulges or cracks. When the car is cold, check your radiator cap for any damage, especially around the inside seals. While you’ve got the cap off, check the fluid level of your radiator. Green antifreeze should be changed out every two years while orange coolant can last four or five years.
- It’s also a good idea to have a professional check the air conditioning system. The mechanic will be checking the refrigerant, the thermostat, the evaporator, and the compressor. If any of these components aren’t in good working order, it’s better to find out now and have repairs done than to suffer through a 100 degree day later on without working A/C.
Know How to Maintain:
Proper car maintenance is always important, but in hot temperatures it becomes especially so. High heat changes the viscosity of auto fluids, causing them to become thinner. If you drive in an area with extremely high temps, you may want to consider switching to fluids with an appropriate viscosity. Your car’s owner’s manual is a good resource for suggestions on what viscosity to use in certain weather conditions. You can also use the internet; visit partsgeek.com to find the fluids you need.
Think Inside AND Outside The Box:
Protect both the interior and exterior of your car from the summer heat. If you have to park outside where your car will be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods, use a sun shade. This is a cheap and easy way to help protect the interior. Use protectant wipes on the dashboard to prevent cracking. If you have a leather interior, go over it with conditioner to protect it from dryness and cracking. Keeping your car washed and waxed will help protect your paint job from fading and chipping.
Don’t Be a Fraid to Ask For Help:
There are plenty of easy steps even a car maintenance newbie can perform to keep a car in good shape. However, sometimes even the most experienced DIY auto mechanic can use a little help once in a while. When in doubt – or even when just pressed for time – it never hurts to get a professional opinion. Taking your car to the mechanic for a summer inspection can save you time and money down the road.
Don’t forget to check your spare tire and throw a first aid kit in the trunk: now your car is summer-proof!
This article was written by Donovan Gladd. Donovan is a car aficionado and eagerly awaiting the autumn season.