The added heat and constant sun exposure can wreak havoc on our cars. Maintaining your vehicle ensures summer fun, and it keeps your car looking and running great. Here are few tips to help you make the best of the summer months and carefree driving.
Check Coolant & Hoses
During the summer, your coolant works especially hard to cool the engine so it does not overheat. It’s always a good idea to check the coolant level and to do an inspection of the hoses. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence states vehicle overheating is the number one reason for summer breakdowns.
Hoses can deteriorate and connectors can loosen. A squishy hose indicates deterioration. Fortunately, changing a coolant hose is a simple, relatively inexpensive procedure. Also tighten hose connectors, otherwise you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
Inspect the Wipers
When it starts to rain, you’ll want wipers that work properly. Wipers often take a beating in the winter, so replace them at the start of the summer season. Automotive and department stores typically carry a wide range of wiper blades. Just look up the year, make, and model of your car, unclip the old wipers, and clip on a new set.
Also check your windshield wiper fluid. Summer means more insects and birds that can make a mess on your windshield.
Check Air Conditioning System
During these hot Rhode Island summers, you’ll definitely need your A/C. If you noticed that it wasn’t work as well as it should have the last time you used it, or if the air wasn’t blowing quite as cold, you may need to recharge the refrigerant.
Do-it-yourselfers can buy a kit from an automotive or department store, but you must take care. The engine runs during recharging, so it’s not a job for an amateur. Most reputable mechanics can test your system for leaks and recharge the refrigerant if you’re not mechanically inclined.
Change the Air Filter
This is job almost anyone can do and it is very important for fuel consumption and performance. Check you manual for instructions, remove the filter, and look for a replacement at an automotive shop or department store.
Modern vehicles often have cabin air filters too, which remove pollen and dust. Once again, read the manual and buy an appropriate replacement.
Get an Oil Change
Hot weather puts additional demands on your car’s oil and oil filter. If you haven’t changed the oil in a while, do it now. The oil filter captures debris that enters the oil system so it remains clean. Clean oil lubricates engine parts well, reduces wear, and increases the life of the engine.
Inspect the Tires
A close inspection of your car’s tires while the weather is warm can alert you to potential problems. If you see worn tread, deep cracks in the sidewall, or uneven wear, it is probably time to consider replacing them. Otherwise, you might cut your summer road trip short.
And remember, always maintain proper tire pressure. Driving on tires that are under or over-inflated can increase wear. Don’t forget to check the spare, too. If you do have a flat, the last thing you want is to realize that you don’t have a functioning spare.
Buy a Sunshade
Dashboard sunshades cost little, but they offer major benefits. They keep the hot summer sun off the seat and, if you have vinyl or leather, this is a huge plus. They also reduce the likelihood of fading on fabric seats and a cracked dashboard.
In addition, they can also lower the cabin temperature so your air conditioning does not work as hard.
These are just a few tips to help you care for your car. However, summer is a great time to give your car a thorough inspection. Pop the hood, check belts and fluids, and clean it inside and out.
Don’t forget to check you have adequate auto insurance coverage, too. State minimums do not provide sufficient protection if you’re in a serious accident. Discuss your needs with your agent and enjoy the fine weather and summer driving.