You are packed and ready for that summer road trip, but are you up to date on your summer auto maintenance?
People often do major auto maintenance during or immediately following winter storms, however in California, summers put a brutal strain on our vehicles. Reduce the chance of being stuck on the side of the road with a blown tire or overheated engine by addressing a few essential summer car maintenance recommendations.
Vehicle Maintenance Tips for Summer
Check Engine Coolant Levels
This is absolutely vital if you are to prevent overheating in the summer. Mechanics recommended that you check your coolant fluid levels weekly, when the engine is cold, to keep the fluid between the min and max marks on the tank. If the coolant level has dropped, make sure that you get it to a trusted auto shop to check for leaks.
The cooling fan is automatically activated when an engine begins to overheat. It will draw in air through the radiator in order to cool the engine, however, if the fan fails, the engine coolant will likely begin to boil, causing significant damage to the engine.
The only way to check on the health of your cooling fan is to run your engine (while parked) for about 5 minutes with the heater at its coldest setting and the A/C set at normal temperatures. If the fan fails to activate and your engine temperatures start to rise, switch your engine off and seek assistance from your local mechanic and breakdown coverage provider.
Air Conditioning & Air Filters
Anyone who has been stuck in California traffic on a hot summer day understands the value of a properly working air conditioning unit. It is important to have your unit serviced annually or over 30,000 miles to avoid costly repairs to your engine and keep fuel consumption at optimum levels. Be sure to also check your air filters to ensure the flow of air is not obstructed by debris and dirt.
Summer heat can increase the pressure of your tires, leading to dangerous blow-outs. And summer storms mean you need to have good tread on your tires. Before any long journey and weekly throughout the summer, check all four tires for punctures, irregular changes in pressure and proper tread depth. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommendations specific to your car. If you have time and money, get your tires rotated, aligned and balanced so your trip is smooth, controlled and safe.
If you plan on driving to a holiday destination in your vehicle this summer, then see your local mechanic to ensure your brakes are working correctly. Check your brake pads, rotors, line and and your brake fluid levels so as to ensure maximum peace of mind before you set off on your travels.
Check the Essentials
Oil is the like a blood supply which flows through your engine, so check that your car’s oil levels are at sufficient levels to avoid causing potentially irreparable damage from overheating. Let the car run for a few minutes before turning off to check the oil – the oil should appear clean on the stick. Many auto mechanics recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles, some manuals recommend 7,500 miles. Refer to your owner’s manual for guidance.
New windshield-wiper blades might be a good investment for summer driving. Thunderstorms often descend upon southern California without warning, and the previous winter’s weather may have taken a toll on the blades’ performance. And be sure to check your windshield cleaning fluid so you can keep your windows clear of dirt, bugs and debris.
Batteries also go through a lot of pain during the winter, not to mention the common corrosion seen on coastal autos. If your car is struggling to start, make sure that your battery is in full working order with a battery test, which will be done for free in many garages. This is a simple way to avoid an inconvenient breakdown.
If your car in in danger of overheating…
Regardless of how careful you have been to ensure that you have the correct engine coolant levels, a functioning cooling fan and properly operating air conditioning unit, the summer heat can still put a strain on your vehicle, particularly if you are stuck in a traffic jam. If you see your temperature gauge rising as your are driving, turn on the heater to full and activate your air conditioning until the problem subsides. Then see a mechanic or breakdown coverage provider as soon as possible.
Preparation is a key to handling harsh summer heat and avoid becoming stranded on vacation. Following these simple tips to ensure your vehicle performs at its best. Not only will you and your car be better prepared to survive the heat, but you’ll also improve your fuel economy and enjoy the freedom that a well-cared-for car can offer. Take car of your car and have a safe summer in the sun!