Prepare Your Vehicle for the Summer

May 21, 2013

It’s summer and the last thing you want to happen is your vehicle breaking down while you’re on your way to the beach. The summer’s temperature increase (much like its counterpart season with decreasing temperatures) can affect different parts of your vehicle that can cause damage leading to costly repairs. To avoid that potential headache all together, keep in mind that routine car maintenance is a key prevention. In order to soak up as much sun as you can at your sandy destination, make sure you check off some of these simple car maintenance tasks before packing your vehicle with beach chairs and water coolers.
The key to summer driving is keeping the engine cool. Sitting in traffic on a hot day is one of the quickest ways to overheat your vehicle. A well-tuned cooling system can keep up with hot temps but if you have low coolant levels or a busted fan belt, your engine temperature is more than likely to go up, and then overheat. Open the hood and inspect coolant levels to ensure everything is up to manufacturer standards (which you can reference in your owner’s manual).
It’s likely you’ll be driving your vehicle a lot more than usual during the summer. With a hot pavement lining your destination, it’s essential to keep track of your tires. As heat is multiplied by the friction caused by the weight of your car (loaded with friends, family, and heavy vacation gear), high temperatures pushes the materials your tires are made of to their limit, causing blowouts and flat tires. Although a mechanic should already be inspecting your tires at least every 3,000 miles, consistently check that your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s specification—doing so not only prolongs tire life but also helps reduce fuel consumption.
Cars outside baking in the sun for an extended period of time can directly hinder your vehicle’s battery and even its electrical system. While the wintertime is notorious for dead batteries, hot weather can be even tougher on your vehicle’s battery. Heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, leading it to overcharge which can dramatically shorten the lifespan. By simply keeping the battery clean by detaching battery cables and wiping off the terminals, as well as checking to see if it’s strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure, you are reducing the risk of a heat damaged battery.
Just as you should keep yourself hydrated throughout the summer, your vehicle needs the proper level of fluids in its system. Other than your tires, replacing fluids throughout your vehicle will properly keep many of the aforementioned areas in check. Considering fluid levels of not only the motor oil but also the coolant for the engine in the radiator, and fluids for the transmission and brakes is essential to prevent your engine from overheating. Rather than a blown transmission or an overheated engine, preventative maintenance that includes flushing out and replacing all the fluids is a much less expensive alternative.