keep your car in prime condition this summer
Old or not, cars need attention. This is especially true when you live in an area that goes through extreme temperature or weather changes. The last thing you need is to get stranded on the highway with your family during a heat wave. So we’ve come up with a list of summer car prep tips to keep you safe this summer.
1. Maintain Your Air Conditioning
If you’ve ever lost your air conditioning on a hot summer day, then you know what a big difference a little cool air makes. The best way to tell if your air conditioner has a problem is if it can’t generate or maintain air temperatures that are 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) below the ambient outside air temperature.
2. Clean Your Battery
Wintertime is notorious for dead batteries and early morning jumpstarts. But the truth is that hot weather is even tougher on your battery. Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing the battery to be overcharged. This can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your battery.
3. Check the Coolant and Radiator
Cars are designed to run hot, but there’s a limit to how hot they should run. A combustion engine is most efficient at around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). But if an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of internal problems for your engine — and, you guessed it, a hefty repair bill.
4. Check Your Brakes
Your brakes are the single most important safety feature on your car. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk this summer by riding around on worn down or faulty brakes.
5. Replace Your Windshield Wipers
The summertime is notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When buckets of water are beating against your windshield, you need wipers that really work. Even more so at night, when a rain storm can decrease visibility to 15 or 20 feet in front of your vehicle.
6. Change the Air Filter
Over the winter, your car’s air filter can get clogged with salt and other thick debris. A clogged air filter can really lower your fuel efficiency. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
7. Check Hoses and Belts
The key to summer driving is keeping the engine cool. The hoses connected to the radiator help pump coolant to and from the engine block, and the belts run the fan that helps cool the system further. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded.
8. De-Winterize Your Car
If you followed our Top 10 Car Winterizing Tips, then there are several things you need to do to “un-winterize” your car for the summer weather. First of all, get rid of those snow tires. Snow tires are heavy and will lower your fuel economy.
If you haven’t driven your car very much during the winter, or if you’ve had it in storage, then you need to check all of the fluid levels — coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid — to make sure there weren’t any leaks. You’ll also want to change the oil, since oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter. If you haven’t used your battery in a while, you might need a recharge or a replacement.
9. Change Oil and Oil Filter
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Most owner’s manuals suggest that you change your oil and oil filter every 7,500 miles (12,070 kilometers). Oil change specialists suggest every 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) or three months. The fact is, most of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer when an engine is more likely to overheat. So at least check your oil before you head out on that road trip with the family.
10. Check your tires
Tires are one of the most overlooked parts of a car. According the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), only one out of 10 drivers checks his or her tire pressure correctly, compared with almost seven out of 10 who wash their cars regularly [source: RMA]. But the truth is that an under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tire can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather.