Summer is here & even your car can feel the heat! Did you know that spending 15 minutes every month under the hood of your vehicle may prevent 70% of problems that lead to highway breakdowns, according to Deanna Sclar, author of Auto Repair for Dummies? To help keep you & your family safe, we’ve rounded up some of the top tips for keeping your car in check this summer.
1. Coolant System
Keeping cool is paramount, not just for ourselves but also for our cars. In addition to checking the level of coolant fluid in your car, go the extra mile and inspect the state of the hoses and the coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, such as where a hose connects to the engine block. Also, squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) every once in a while to make sure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft. (Autotrader, 2020)
Summer weather makes the air inside your tires expand, putting them at greater risk for a blowout. Avoid over- or underinflating your tires by checking the pressure regularly. Adjust the pressure according to the specifications listed on the sticker on the driver’s side door jamb. Check the tread by putting a penny into the tire’s grooves with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. Remember to check the pressure and tread of your spare tire as well, so that you won’t be stranded on the side of the road while everyone else is heading to the beach. Since summer is a time for road trips, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a can of Fix-A-Flat that could at least get you to a shady spot where you could change the wheel more comfortably. (Autotrader, 2020)
3. Air-Conditioning System
Air-conditioning is a summer essential. If the system hasn’t been working properly, but wasn’t really a pressing issue over the winter, now’s the time to get serious. If it’s an older system, then leaking Freon into the atmosphere is not good. There are plenty of leak-sealing products and refrigerant rechargers available. Remember, if there’s not enough refrigerant in the system, you have a leak. Have a qualified mechanic fix the leak before paying to have the air-conditioning system recharged. (Autotrader, 2020)
4. Get your brakes inspected
Stop-and-go traffic, road trips, and inclement conditions can do a number on your brakes. When you’re driving along the highway on a sunny day with your windows down and your radio volume up, it’s easy to forget that you’re in a massive chunk of steel and glass hurtling through space at 60-plus miles per hour. At that speed, if you suddenly needed to stop, your vehicle could take approximately the length of a football field to come to a standstill – and that’s only if you’ve kept one of the most critical safety systems in your car well maintained: your brakes. (Franco, 2010)
5. Test your battery
“Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave you stranded without warning,” says Steve Fox, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Most people don’t realize that heat is the number one cause of battery failure and reduced battery life,” he adds. (Firestone, 2019)
Stop in your local Performance NAPA for a complimentary battery test. An easy and free battery test could ensure you won’t be caught off guard by a car that won’t start this summer.
The big five – oil, coolant, transmission, power steering, and brake – keep your car running. Low fluid levels could indicate a hose leak or a larger problem. Beware especially of low brake fluid. AAA found that 88 percent of repair shops say drivers skip their brake fluid maintenance. (Trop, 2016)
Afternoon thunderstorms are notorious during summertime. Worn wipers create nasty streaks across the windshield and can affect your vision while driving. Replacing them doesn’t cost much, and is typically an easy DIY project. Come by your local Performance NAPA store for help on getting the best wipers for your car needs.
8. Air Filter
The winter’s decomposing leaves may be clogging up drainage points, windshield-washer nozzles, or your car’s air filter. Now might be a good time to buy a new one or take the current one out and give it a cleaning. Many modern cars also have pollen filters or cabin filtration systems, so take a look at those, too. Sometimes these cabin filters are easy to change yourself. Like everything else mentioned here: When in doubt, consult a qualified technician. (Autotrader, 2020)
9. Dashboard Sunshade
For those times when you’re not driving, but the car is still out in the sun, a cover that goes in the windshield will protect the dashboard against ultraviolet rays and help the cabin stay a little cooler. Some even have solar panels to keep the battery charged. Consider shades for the rear side windows, too, as they’ll provide some protection for the kids. This also helps prevent areas such as the rear seats and dashboard from fading over time. (Autotrader, 2020)
10. Clean & Wax
Keeping the exterior of your car clean protects the paintwork from the sun’s rays, as well as any damage caused by birds and insects. Finishing off a good cleaning with a quality wax will also help keep your car’s paint protected during hot summer days.
Firestone. (2019, November 22). 6 Essential Summer Car Care Tips: Firestone Complete Auto Care. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://blog.firestonecompleteautocare.com/maintenance/summer-car-care-tips/
Franco, M. (2010, October 18). 5 Signs That You Need Your Brakes Checked. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-tests/5-signs-you-need-your-brakes-checked.htm
Ryan, C. Autotrader – April 27. (2020, June 10). 10 Simple Summer Car Care Tips. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/10-simple-summer-car-care-tips-240454
Trop, J. (2016, July 16). 5 Best Summer Car Care Tips. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/best-cars-blog/2016/07/5-best-summer-car-care-tips