In the past we’ve discussed the importance of getting your vehicle ready for winter, or “winterizing.” While this is very important, it is also important to make sure your vehicle is prepared for the summer.
Summertime often means long road trips, in high temperatures, with heavier than average loads. Add the effects of an unprepared vehicle, and your chances for a breakdown increase significantly.
Here are 10 steps you should take to make sure your vehicle is prepared for summer road conditions:
- De-winterize. If you haven’t already, remove the heavy snow tires as they can lower your fuel economy. Also, check fluid levels and make sure there are no leaks. You should also make sure that the undercarriage has been thoroughly cleaned. Road salts/sands that are used in the winter can get caked on and cause erosion.
- Service your air conditioning. Stay ahead of harsh summer heat and have your air conditioner maintenance completed now. The most common cause of a failing air conditioner is low refrigerant levels, which is usually caused by a leak in the system.
- Check your tire pressure and tire tread. With rising temperatures, the pressure changes around one to two PSI for each 10-degree increase. Underinflated tires bulge outward and puts extra pressure on the sidewall. With enough pressure and heat, the tire could eventually blow. If the tires are overinflated they make less contact with the surface of the road which could cause hydroplaning if the roads are wet after a summer storm. Take this time to check the overall condition of the tires as well and have them replaced if necessary.
- Change the oil and oil filter. Oil is the life blood of your vehicle. It is one of the most vital vehicle maintenance items. It keeps the hardworking parts of the engine running smooth, clean and cool. Most owner’s manuals recommend you change your oil and filter around every 3,000-7,000 miles. The summer is when a lot of people do some heavy driving which can lead to an overheated engine if not properly maintained. So, make sure everything is properly lubricated before any kind of road trip.
- Check the coolant and radiator. Though they are designed to run fairly hot, there is a limit as to how hot your engine should get. If the engine gets too hot, it is possible that moving metal parts will fuse together, which results in serious engine problems and hefty repair bills. Your coolant (antifreeze) and radiator work together to keep the engine cool so it is important that they are working as they should as you head into summer when keeping the engine cool becomes extra difficult. For summer driving, coolant should be added as a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water.
- Check hoses and belts. Keeping the engine cool is essential for successful summer driving. If the belts snap or hoses crack, the radiator will quickly overheat. The higher temperatures do a number on the rubber of these parts, so it is important to check on them periodically throughout the season. Make sure the hoses are free of cracks, leaks and lose connections, and make sure the belts have no cracks or damages and are not too loose or too tight.
- Check the air filter. Over the winter your air filter may become clogged with salt and other road debris. Also, clogged or dirty air filters can affect your fuel economy. Change the dirty or clogged air filter to help improve your gas mileage by up to 10 percent.
- Check your brakes. Brakes are easily the most important safety feature on the vehicle. Keep your family safe this summer and avoid driving on brakes that are worn down or faulty. If you have noticed a problem with your brakes, the sooner you have them inspected and repaired the better- not only for your family’s safety, but for your pockets! Brake repair costs are much lower when fixed in a timely manner.
- Check your battery. Winter and summer are both very tough on a battery. The heat of the summer speeds up the chemical reaction in the battery, causing it to be overcharged- which lowers the battery life significantly. The battery cables need to be kept clean and free of corrosion. Make sure the battery is strapped down securely and that all connections are tight. If you suspect that your battery is being overcharged or isn’t holding a charge well, bring it in and we can run a quick battery inspection.
- Don’t forget the wipers! Summer thunderstorms can be sudden and violent, resulting in an onslaught of water beating against your windshield. When this happens, you need to know your wipers are going to work. This is important during the day, but even more so at night when the storm can decrease your visibility by around 15 to 20 feet. We recommend replacing your wipers every six months. Before the start of winter and summer are perfect opportunities.
If you would like help making sure your vehicle is summer ready, give us a visit. Meridian Automotive provides complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone with your automotive repair needs, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.