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How to Take Care of Your Car in Summertime

How to Take Care of Your Car in Summertime

Is your car ready to take the heat this summer? Let’s face it: Extreme temperatures can do a real number on your car, so if you want to avoid costly repairs and breakdowns and mitigate the risk of accidents, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle components checked before hitting the road. If you need some pointers on how to take care of your car during this (sometimes impossibly) hot season, consider these helpful tips from the experts.

Maintain cooling system efficiency

Overheating predisposes your car to unnecessary (and often costly) breakdowns during the summers, so keep your cooling system working properly. Flush your cooling systems as per the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually about every 24 months) and check the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant between scheduled flushes. You can use a 50/50 mix of water and recommended coolant type to top off the reservoir.

Warning: If you’re doing this without the aid of a professional, don’t remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot, since boiling coolant can cause serious burns.

Change oil and oil filter

Most car manufacturers recommend changing your oil and oil filter every 5,000 to 7,500 miles (when using modern lubricants). However, if your car is equipped with an oil-life monitoring system, your instrument panel will automatically alert you when an oil change is due.

Have the AC serviced

Wondering how to keep your car cool in summer? The short answer - have a fully optimized AC system. You can’t afford a marginally operating AC system in often sweltering heat; that would be a recipe for disaster. High ambient temperatures have a profound effect on driver alertness and vehicle safety, so if comfort and safety are your priority, have your AC checked by a qualified technician to make sure it can take the additional load.

Check the battery

While batteries can fail any time, excessive heat can make matters worse. High temperatures can shorten a battery’s life span by accelerating the evaporation of the battery fluid and increasing the risk of overcharging. To keep it running smoothly and extend its productive life, show your battery some love. Keep all surfaces clean (dirt can drain battery power), tighten all connections, and scrape away corrosion on battery terminals. Check the fluid level regularly and ask a professional to check the electrical system to make sure it is charging at the correct rate.   

Check your tires

High temperatures can adversely affect the condition of your tires and increase the risk of blowouts. Thankfully, you can easily avoid this by visually examining your tires for signs of cuts, nicks, uneven wearing, and cupping. You should also check your tire tread and tire pressures regularly (at least once a month would be ideal). 

As a general rule, inflate your tires (including the spare) according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation as stated in the owner’s manual. This is extremely important, since an under-inflated tire can cause premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts, while an over-inflated tire causes uneven and accelerated wear along the center of the tire, reduces traction and overall tire performance, and increases the risk of blowouts.

Additionally, have your tires rotated every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, request for an alignment if you notice uneven tread wear or if your car pulls to one side, and invest in a new set of tires when the rubber starts to show signs of balding.

Protect your car’s exterior

More than anything else, your car’s exterior probably takes the worst beating during the season for obvious reasons. Leaving it exposed under the sun for extended periods of time can oxidize, fade, and crack your car’s exterior finish, wreak havoc on your interior upholstery, and lead to a lot of problems along the way (e.g. damaged safety systems, broken belts and hoses, low fluid levels, lowered tire pressure, and more).

To protect your car’s paint and finish, wash your vehicle on a weekly basis to remove dust and dirt particles and have it waxed at least once every six months for added protection. Avoid parking your car out in the open and invest in a high-quality sun protection car cover to keep it in good condition.

In addition to the above mentioned tips on how to take care of your car this summer, you should also check hoses and belts, top off all fluids, replace windshield wipers, check your brakes, and replace burned out lights and bulbs to keep your car in excellent running condition despite the heat.

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