While the cold, dry air of winter mixed with the inevitable road salt can be a surefire recipe for stress on your vehicle, the summer heat can be almost as bad. Summer driving conditions obviously tend to be hot, which increases the heat and friction of your vehicle’s moving parts. While the winter cold can also create friction, summer’s extreme heat tends to make more parts go kaput.
Needless to say, preventing these issues will require some observance and diligence on your part. There are several maintenance tasks you should take care of or have addressed by a professional before you hit the roads to summer fun.
1. Change Your Oil
If your vehicle is approaching its oil change limit or has had a particularly rough winter, you may want to change it a tad early. Oil keeps the engine cool and lubricated so that some of the most devastating problems will be avoided. Winter driving conditions can also mean that your oil lines will ingest all sorts of debris that can saturate the filter. By preemptively giving your vehicle an oil change, you can give it a clean filter and less reasons to start complaining about the summer heat. This is one of the key tips to maintaining your car.
2. Inspect Under the Hood
A prime culprit for vehicle problems is cracked hoses and belts. No one wants to start their summer vacation by breaking down three hours away from home. Pop open your hood and take a look at your vehicle’s hose lines, especially the ones connecting to your radiator and engine.
If the engine is completely cool, you can touch the hoses a bit to see their consistency. They should be quite firm like an unripe avocado. Over time they can degrade and become mushy, or they can get dried out and crack. Likewise, belts can dry and crack over time. Replace any parts you see that show obvious problems.
3. Check Your Coolant and Inspect Your Radiator
Make sure your vehicle has ample coolant in an appropriate water/coolant mix for your region. Fill up your reservoir to the max line. If your engine has been sitting for over an hour and is 100 percent cooled off, you can check your radiator cap as well and add coolant if needed.
You may want to have a professional do this, but you should also evaluate your radiator for signs of cracks. An inspection and even a coolant flush can help your vehicle avoid overheating problems that plague summer drivers.
4. Keep Your Tires Full
Underinflated tires wear heavier on brakes, gas mileage, suspensions and countless other systems. Keep your tires inflated just under the max PSI listed on the tire sidewall and check the pressure every 15-30 days to prevent excessive system wear or even an unfortunate blowout.
5. Swap Out Dead or Dying Parts
Regular maintenance is particularly important during the summer months, so do not forget to evaluate the following parts and replace them as needed:
- Brake pads
- Windshield wipers
- Transmission fluid
- Tires with worn treads
Also make sure you have a proper emergency kit stocked before you embark on any long-term trips. Good luck and happy trails!