Summer Car Care Tips

The heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic of crowded summer roads can take a toll on your vehicle. Unfortunately, this means car trouble tends to be more common in the summertime. If you hope to avoid an overheated engine, broken air conditioner, burst tires, and other problems, follow these summer car care tips as the weather heats up.

  • Examine the coolant system: Keeping cool in the summer is paramount—not just for you, but for your car as well. In addition to ensuring you have enough coolant, inspect the condition of the reservoir and hoses. Check for leaks, make sure drive belts and clamps are tight, and squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) to make sure they aren’t brittle or excessively soft.
  • Replace worn wipers: The weather may be more pleasant in the summer, but rain, hail, and thunderstorms are still likely. As soon as your wipers start chattering or leaving streaks across the windshield, replace them. Top off the windshield washer fluid while you’re at it.
  • Check other fluid levels: In addition to coolant and windshield washer fluid, check the oil, brake fluid, and power-steering fluid. These tend to thin or even evaporate in warm weather, so don’t be surprised if you need to top them off. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re not sure how.
  • Get an oil change: Checking the oil level isn’t enough. Your car also needs oil changes at the frequency specified in your owner’s manual. Consider oil changes as often as every 3,000 miles if you make frequent short trips, drive long distances, tow a trailer, or travel through dusty conditions.
  • Replace the serpentine belt as needed: The belt connected to the alternator can crack, loosen, and break, sometimes seemingly without reason. Keep an eye on it, and if it begins deteriorating, have it replaced as soon as possible.
  • Test the air conditioning system: As the temperature rises outside, you’ll know right away if the AC isn’t working properly. A low refrigerant charge is a likely culprit, especially in older cars. A system once-over, refrigerant recharge, and leak repair should get the cold air flowing again.
  • Clean or replace the air filters: Cars have numerous filter types, including air, fuel, PCV, cabin, and others. You need to replace these more frequently in dry, dusty conditions, or you could end up with poor driving performance.
  • Check the tire pressure: Your tires deserve attention all year round. First, check the pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Consult the inside of the fuel door or the driver’s side door jamb if you’re not sure what the pressure should be. Then, top off or remove air as needed.
  • Examine the tire tread: Pick out any stones or other debris caught in the tread and check the tires for cracks, bulges, or other signs of deterioration. Use the penny test to determine if the tread depth is adequate, and if not, have your tires replaced.
  • Check on your spare tire: Summer is a time for road trips, so make sure you aren’t caught with a flat tire and a flat spare. It’s also wise to keep a can of Fix-a-Flat on hand to help you make it to the nearest car repair shop.
  • Schedule a tire rotation and wheel alignment: By changing the position of your tires every 5,000 miles, you promote more even tread wear and prolong the life of your tires. A wheel alignment is also recommended if your car pulls to one side.
  • Invest in a dashboard sunshade: Park in the shade whenever you can. If it’s in short supply, use a sunshade. This simple measure protects the dashboard against damaging UV rays and helps the cabin stay a few degrees cooler. Consider partially transparent shades for the side windows as well to provide some sun protection for your passengers.
  • Clean the windshield: A grimy film tends to build up on the inside of windshields. Around sunset, this haze diffuses the light and makes it harder to see. Clean the windshield inside and out to ensure a sharp, clear view while driving.
  • Get a brake inspection: Preventative inspections help you avoid brake problems before they start. Also, be on the lookout for any signs of deteriorating brakes, including pulsations, squealing or grinding noises, a spongy brake pedal, or a longer-than-normal stopping distance.
  • Test the battery: Car batteries can act up any time of year, not just in cold winter weather. Routinely scraping corrosion from the posts and cable connections can help your battery last longer. Then, if the engine is slow to start or the check engine light comes on, have the battery tested and replaced if needed.
  • Stock a summer car emergency kit: It’s wise to keep a few supplies in the trunk to ensure you’re prepared for an overheated engine or flat tire on a summer road trip. Here’s what to include in your summer car emergency kit:
    • Extra engine coolant
    • Spare tire and car jack
    • Jumper cables
    • Basic toolbox
    • Flashlight
    • Duct tape
    • Car owner’s manual
    • First aid kit
    • Paper map of the area
    • Cell phone car charger
    • Bottled water and non-perishable food

For automotive painting, frame straightening, dent repair, wheel alignment, or tire mounting and balancing, visit B&L Automotive Repairs in Chicago. Our collision services will have your car looking as good as new. Stop on by, call us at (773) 463-1622, or contact us online to schedule the car repair services you need.

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