Hot Summer Car Care Tips
The arrival of summer marks an ideal time to make sure that your car or truck is in good working condition. The hot temperatures the summer heat can bring is tough on our vehicles. It can effect everything from the paint down to the tires. Below are a few tips you can follow so that you are not stranded in the heat. Protect your car against the hazards of summer.
-Coolant, this is the number one thing you should stay on top of during summer months. This is normally easy to check or add and is generally done through the coolant reservoir located under the hood. You can consult to your owner’s manual for specific location. Be sure the level is between the minimum and maximum markings. Never open the radiator cap or coolant lid when the engine is hot.
-Motor oil, motorist can regularly check these on your own about once a month. Be sure your engine is cold or has been off at least 10 minutes. Pull out the dip stick and wipe it clean. Insert the dipstick back into the pipe and then pull it out again. Note how high the oil film reaches on the dipstick and the condition of the oil, and add or change the oil as needed. When you check your oil, if it is dirty or smells of gasoline, it should be changed. You don’t add oil into the tiny tube that the dipstick sits in. Look for a screw-off cap on top of the largest part of the engine. It could be blank or it could be labeled “Oil Cap” or something similar, and it might even indicate which grade of oil you ought to be using in your car. Unscrew that cap and add oil as needed.
Also be sure to keep up periodic maintenance like oil and filter changes and inspection or replacement of the air cleaner and fuel filters. Not only are these essential to the durability of your engine in the long term, but neglecting them will cause poor fuel economy in the short term, too. Performing regular maintenance means it will take less fuel to make that long highway trip. Maintaining proper tire pressure and using cruise control on the highway can further improve fuel economy, keeping your summer fuel costs down.
– Wiper Fluid, Windshield washer fluid is one of those maintenance items that you might overlook. Until you try to look through a dirty windshield while driving, that is. Find your washer fluid reservoir-it’s usually a white, translucent container with a windshield/water symbol on the cap. Note that if your vehicle has a rear wiper, there may be a second reservoir for it as well. Remove the cap(s) and check the fluid level in the reservoir(s). If it’s full, you don’t need to add any. If the fluid is low, carefully pour some into the reservoir(s) until it almost reaches the top. Do NOT use water if it freezes it can clog and damage reservoir and hoses. Replace the cap(s) and press down until it pops into place.
- Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is also important, especially in summer months. As the outside temperature climbs, the air in your car’s tires expands, so check your tire pressure when the tires are at a normal temperature – before you set out on a road trip. Also, be sure to use the proper tire pressure for your car, not the maximum pressure listed on the tire sidewall. Check the recommended tire pressure label in the door jamb or glove compartment, or consult your owner’s manual. Tires that are over- or underinflated can reduce the vehicle’s handling capability or generate excess heat, causing a blowout. Although most newer cars have an on-board tire pressure monitoring system, get a good quality tire pressure gauge – a dial-type analog unit or digital gauge, not a straight, pen-type one – and check them yourself every few months. Don’t forget to check the pressure in your spare tire, too. It’s like an insurance policy. You never know when you might need it.
- Air Conditioning
Have your air conditioning checked annually. If your car’s a/c is not getting cold you could have a leak in the system. You can add refrigerant but it will only solve the problem temporarily, so you may want to invest in proper repair. Some a/c systems have a cabin air filtration system. Check your owner’s manual to see how often the filter should be changed. And if you see a little water dripping from your car, don’t worry. The a/c system drains condensation when it’s working properly. Also try to keep your car cool when your not driving.
The heat can cause cosmetic damage to your car and make it harder to cool off inside when you get in it to drive. You can protect it by regularly waxing your vehicle using a polish with UV protection to reduce sun damage and paint fading. You can protect your interior by placing a sunshade that keeps sun from coming in the windshield and fading, drying and cracking the inside of your vehicle and keep it cooler for when it’s time to go.
Following these simple tips will help your vehicle to perform its best this summer and will keep you from getting stranded in the heat.