Many people realize that they have to prepare their car for summer, but few people realize that the same amount of care and preparation has to be put into the car during the summer months. Routine summer maintenance will not only ensure that you get the maximum life-expectancy out of your vehicle, but it will also help ensure that your car is running a peak efficiency.
- The Battery
Summer weather can kill a battery just as quickly as winter weather. Heat can cause the battery fluid to evaporate and may speed up the chemical reaction within your battery. Both of these things can damage the battery, or at the very least, shorten its life.
The first thing that should be done is to make sure that the battery and its electrical connection are clean and free of any corrosion. Disconnect the battery and clean the terminals and the battery posts with a solution of baking soda and water. Also wipe down the outside of the battery and make sure it is clean.
While the battery is disconnected pry up the panels to the battery cells and check the fluid level. If the fluid level is below the top of the cells, then more water is needed. Add purified water to bring the fluid level back to normal. Caution: You should never use tap water in your battery because it can contain minerals that can corrode the battery’s fuel plates.
Reinstall the battery and make sure the contacts are tight. Lightly coat the battery posts with battery grease or petroleum jelly to protect them from corrosion.
- Oil and Oil Filter
It is important to change your oil at regular intervals, as suggested by your vehicle’s manufacturer, to ensure that your car runs at peak performance. This is especially important during the summer months when your engine is especially vulnerable to heat and friction.
- Air Filter
The air filter is another important thing to check on a regular basis, but is especially important in preparation for summer. This is because salt and grime off of the winter roads can easily clog the filter. The air filter should be changed at least every 15,000 miles, but if a lot of road salt or gravel dust has clogged it, then it might need to be changed sooner.
- Coolant Level
Coolant level should also be checked. You should check to make sure that you not only have adequate antifreeze in the vehicle but also that it is in good condition. If it looks cloudy or rusty, then it needs to be changed and your system needs to be flushed.
Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that you change your antifreeze every two years. This is because antifreeze breaks down over time and not only becomes less effective, but also loses the additives that keep your system corrosion-free.
- Belts And Hoses
It is also important to check your belts. You should check them for tell tale signs of wear. This includes cracking on the ribs behinds the belts and fraying of the outer edges of the belt. Another sign your belts needs replaced is glazing of the surface of the belt. If any of these exists, replace the belts immediately.
Hoses should also be checked for defects. You should make sure they are free from cracks or splits and that the hose doesn’t feel soft. You should also check for swollen parts of the hoses or obvious signs of leakage. If these exists, replace the hoses at once.
- Wipers And Blades
Wipers deteriorate over time, so it is important to change them every six months or sooner if they show signs of wear. You should also check the wiper arms to make sure they are still holding the blade to the windshield. If they don’t, replace them immediately, Also make sure that your windshield wiper reservoir is filled with windshield wiper fluid.
Brakes should be checked and changed at regular intervals to ensure they are in proper condition. You should make sure that the brakes are not too soft. If they are, then this could indicate anything from worn pads to a leak in the hydraulic system. You should also check to make sure that the brakes aren’t too stiff. This could be an indication of unevenly worn rotors or possibly contamination in the brake fluid.
You should also check to make sure that the brake fluid is at the proper level. If it isn’t, then add fresh brake fluid to bring it to the correct level.
- Air Conditioner
The air conditioner should be checked to make sure it is in good running conditioner. Make sure that the system has enough refrigerant and that the drive belt is in good condition. You should also ensure that the condenser isn’t clogged and is fully functional.
Tires should be checked on a regular basis. You should ensure that the tires not only have good tread, but also that they are properly aired. During warmer weather, tires lose about 1 PSI of pressure for every ten degree rise in temperature, therefore it is important to check them at least once a month.
Check your headlights and make sure that they are free from cracks and are working the way they are designed to work. You should also make sure the lenses are clean and free of dirt or grime. Also make sure the bulbs aren’t burned out and that the wiring is in good condition.
- Properly Stock Your Car
Below are a few items you should have packed in your cars at all times to ensure that you are prepared for anything that might occur during your summer drives.
- Automotive tool kit
- Emergency kit
- Tire patch kit
- Spare tire and tire iron
- Extra serpentine belt
- Bug repellent
- Cell phone charger
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By Andrew Handley
I write daily about cars and everything concerning driving. You can reach me on Google+ or leave a comment!