TodayApril 15, 2022

Hot Tips for Summer Proofing Your Car

Summer, Sun, and cars

There’s nothing quite like car trouble to ruin your day, week, or year! Why is it that car break downs always seem to have the worst timing? Poorly maintained cars can leave you high and dry, hours from home, awaiting roadside assistance. What’s more, car repairs are not cheap.

While many car issues occur in winter due to cold temperatures and dangerous road conditions, there is a common misconception that summer doesn’t negatively affect vehicles. Driving conditions are far better, but there is no escaping car troubles. They say that in life, nothing is certain except death and taxes. If you’re a car owner, add vehicle repairs to that list.

Increased temperatures and changing conditions mean summer poses unique challenges to cars. Unfortunately, some issues are unpredictable, and problems do occur. However, following these tips might help prevent one or two unnecessary ones this summer.

Battery health

Cold weather is tough on car batteries. They can lose up to 60% of their function when temperatures plummet. Twice as much current may be necessary to start up your vehicle during winter, which can lead to significant wear and tear.
As summer approaches, the weather is kinder to your battery. However, the heat can have a negative effect too.
First of all, have your battery tested to ensure it isn’t carrying over problems from winter. Wipe away any corrosive build-up from the battery terminals and clamps. Secure the battery in place so that it isn’t in danger of rattling around too much.
These steps will give your battery the best chance of not overheating.

Engine coolant system

Keep your engine topped up on coolant fluid over the summer months. Topping off will help keep the engine nice and cool. Don’t stop there, however. Take a thorough inspection of the coolant system. Check that the hoses and reservoir are in good condition, and do a double-take for possible leaks.

Make sure to wait until the engine cools down before performing these checks.

Check oil and essential fluid levels.

Checking essential fluid levels such as oil, transmission, steering, brake, and washer fluid should be part of your regular maintenance routine. Again, high temperatures can affect fluid levels, so it’s essential to be extra vigilant during summer.

If you’re topping up with any of these, always be sure to use the type specified in the owner’s manual.

Monitor tire conditions

An alarming number of drivers take to the road completely unaware that their tires are dangerously defective. You should check your tires regularly all year-round.

Check that there are no punctures, cracks, or other damages. Use proper guidelines to measure tread depth, as well as tire pressure.

Check engine belts and radiator.
If you are taking a trip this summer, you don’t want to hit the road with four fresh tires, a new battery, and optimal fuel levels, only for an engine belt or radiator to fail. These are usually sturdy pieces of equipment but can develop cracks and endure wear and tear.
Your safest option here is to have your mechanic give these a once over.

Need to replace your air filter?

Typically, an air filter needs replacing every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Your owner’s manual should specify this for your vehicle.

If you can’t recall when you last changed yours, here are a few symptoms to look out for:
You may have noticed a decrease in gas mileage.
Ignition problems can occur from a dirty air filter.
Visual test: a new filter is usually white(ish). If yours is dirty or full of junk, it probably needs changing.

If you don’t want to take a risk, changing the air filter is usually an inexpensive job for your mechanic.

Don’t neglect your wipers

You may not need your wipers frequently during summer, but don’t get caught out that one time you do by having shot wipers. Wipers can accumulate a build-up of dust and dirt when they’re not in use. This can damage your windscreen if they’re not cleaned off or replaced.

Keep your car clean

Keeping a tight ship when it comes to car cleanliness may be more important than you think. First and foremost, there’s a safety issue. A dirty car can be difficult to see out of. A layer of grime on the windshield might go unnoticed as it builds-up gradually, but it can lead to a severe visual hazard.

Keeping your car clean on the inside and out can also slow the depreciation of your vehicle. Dirt, grime, salt, and silt are natural elements that cause damage to your car’s paint and interior.

Smells can linger in cars. Spills, dampness, must, or exposure to outdoor fumes can stink up your vehicle. What’s worse is that you can become accustomed to the smell and stop noticing it. Get a good quality air freshener to keep your car smelling fresh. If you want to match the theme of your car’s interior, consider custom air fresheners.

Air conditioning

It’s no fun driving around in sweltering heat with a broken A/C system. The simplest way to test your A/C is to turn on your engine, crank the A/C up high and use your hand to gauge the temperature. If the temperature doesn’t seem as low as it should be, you may have a problem. WikiHow takes you through 15 steps to fix your A/C. The best course of action, however, is to hire a professional.

Have a breakdown kit on hand

An emergency breakdown kit can get you out of a serious pickle. These are usually available to buy at your local auto parts shop or hardware store. Or, try your hand at assembling your very own homemade breakdown kit.

Breakdown kits commonly consist of roadside essentials, such as:

Jump leads
Emergency reflectors
Motor oil
First aid kit
Tool kit
Puncture repair kit
Portable car jack

Hopefully, you’ll never need to rely on your emergency breakdown kit, but if you do end up with a roadside emergency, you’ll be glad to have one.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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