When rainy spring days turn to higher temperatures and longer, hotter days, summer has officially arrived. Every part of your car is put under stress in hot weather. Fluids go faster, components dry, crack, and corrode. Take steps now to avoid car problems from happening during road trips. Try these top seven summer car care tips and move safely along on your vacation without any car trouble.
Check your A/C
Maintaining your car’s cooling system is your top priority. It’s what prevents the engine from overheating. First, inspect your coolant level by looking at the plastic coolant reservoir. Your owner’s manual will give you the exact location. Warning! To avoid injury, don’t open the radiator cap when the car is hot. Then, check your hoses and drive belts for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. If anything seems worn or isn’t in the best condition, it may be a good idea to replace that part. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.
Clean your battery
Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. A simple way to help maintain your battery is to make sure that it’s clean and clear—especially around the terminals. A battery that is starting to show signs of corrosion may need to be replaced in the near future. If your car’s battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it and add distilled water if necessary.
Change the air filter
Over the winter, your air filter may have become clogged with salt and other road debris. Replace your filter to increase mileage and improve efficiency. Air filters should be replaced approximately once every 12,000 miles.
Check the oil
Without oil, your car isn’t going to get very far. For most vehicles, oil changes are recommended every 7,500 miles. To check your oil, first run your car for a few minutes and then park it on a level surface where you can access the hood. Pop the hood, and locate the dipstick. Check the level and the appearance of the oil. Dirty oil can reduce performance and make your engine run hotter and less smoothly. If you’re low on oil, you can simply top it off. Ideally, your oil will be a brownish-yellow color and be clean on the dipstick without an excessive amount of dirt or grime.
Under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tires can be extremely dangerous. Check your tires’ condition—cracks, cuts, and bulges in the sidewall are warning signs of trouble. Use a pressure gauge to check inflation. Make sure tires are inflated to the proper levels detailed in your owner’s manual or listed inside the doorframe. Don’t forget to check the spare, too.
Check lights and wipers
Ensure all of your lights are properly working and that you have a good set of wiper blades installed. Summer downpours can unexpectedly start at any moment, so you want to be prepared. It’s cheap and easy to replace your own wiper blades; pick them up from any hardware or auto store (and many will replace them for you, if you prefer).
Build an emergency road kit
Keep a summer car-care kit ready in your trunk. Store a windshield sunshade to block the sun from roasting the interior of your car. Carry a gallon or two of water, in case your car or passengers overheat. Include jumper cables and some emergency cones. Sunscreen, antihistamine, towels, and wipes will all help maintain your summer cool, inside and out. Add some non-perishable food items, a first-aid kit, blanket or jacket.
These seven summer car care tips should help keep your vehicle running strong throughout the summer and well into the fall and winter. However, if you are looking for a new vehicle at an affordable price before you head out on your adventure, check out the Tower Car Buying Service, powered by TRUECar®.
References: Autotrader.com and Car and Driver
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