Summer is quickly approaching and you know what that means, “are we there yet?”
Road trips are an important component to the summer experience and reaching your destination on time and safely are essential.
Before hitting the road this summer, consider these summer car maintenance tips from HOWSTUFFWORKS:
1. Check your tires
Tires are one of the most overlooked parts of a car. According the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), only one out of 10 drivers checks his or her tire pressure correctly, compared with almost seven out of 10 who wash their cars regularly
. But the truth is that an under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tire can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather. Besides being a safety concern, improperly inflated and misaligned tires can lower your car’s fuel economy. If your tires are a total of eight pounds under-inflated — not uncommon at all — you’ll waste up to up to a gallon of gas per month
2. Change Oil and oil filter
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. To check your oil, let your car run for a few minutes, then park it on a level surface and shut off the engine. Open the hood and locate the oil dipstick. You’re looking for two things here: the level of oil and how the oil looks
. If you’re low on oil, you can either add another quart or simply change the oil completely. The oil should look brownish yellow and clean on the stick. If the oil is a dark color or there’s a lot of dirt and grime in it, then you definitely need an oil change and oil filter replacement.
3. De-Winterize your car
First of all, get rid of those snow tires. Snow tires are heavy and will lower your fuel economy.
If you haven’t driven your car very much during the winter, or if you’ve had it in storage, then you need to check all of the fluid levels — coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid — to make sure there weren’t any leaks. You’ll also want to change the oil, since oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter. If you haven’t used your battery in a while, you might need a recharge or a replacement.
It’s also important to really clean the undercarriage of the car after a long winter, especially if you live in a snowy climate. The salt that’s used to melt snow and ice on roads can get caked on the underside of your car and begin to eat away at the metal.
4. Check hoses and belts
Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable. Hoses suffer from a slow deterioration process called electrochemical degradation (ECD) that eats away at rubber hose material from the inside
. The most vulnerable parts of the hose are those nearest to clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine.
Belts can also be visually checked for cracks and damage. Take note if the belt looks excessively slick or smooth. Remove the belt to make sure that the material hasn’t started separating into different layers.
5. Change the air filter
Over the winter, your car’s air filter can get clogged with salt and other thick debris. A clogged air filter can really lower your fuel efficiency. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent
6. Replace your windshield wipers
The summertime is notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When buckets of water are beating against your windshield, you need wipers that really work. Even more so at night, when a rain storm can decrease visibility to 15 or 20 feet in front of your vehicle.
Winter can be tough on windshield wipers. Ice, snow, salt and extreme temperatures make cracks and tears in the rubber that lower the effectiveness of the wipers. If your wipers are leaving visible streaks or take several passes to clear away light rain, they need to be replaced.
When replacing a wiper blade, it’s better to replace the whole blade, not just the rubber part
. Go to an auto parts store and they’ll be able to give you the right blades for your make, model and year.
7. Check your brakes
Your brakes are the single most important safety feature on your car. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk this summer by riding around on worn down or faulty brakes.
Brakes need to be replaced when the lining on your brake pad or brake shoe is worn down past the minimum thickness specified by the car manufacturer.
8. Check the coolant and radiator
The summertime is tough on cooling systems. Sitting in traffic on a hot day is one of the quickest ways to overheat your car. This is because there’s no air flowing across the engine to help keep it cool. A well-tuned cooling system can take long idles in hot weather, but if you have low coolant levels or a busted fan belt, your engine temperature is going to go up — and fast.
Check under the hood and make sure that your coolant levels are fine. The general rule is to flush your radiator and add new coolant at least every two years. Flushing the radiator is done with a special chemical that cleans debris and build-up on the inside of the radiator. For summer driving, coolant should be added as a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water.
9. Clean your battery
Wintertime is notorious for dead batteries and early morning jumpstarts. But the truth is that hot weather is even tougher on your battery.
Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing the battery to be overcharged
. This can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your battery. Heat can also damage the battery by evaporating internal battery fluid
The best way to keep your battery running smoothly is to keep it clean. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals. Make sure the battery is strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure.
If you suspect that your battery is being overcharged or isn’t holding a charge well, take it to a service shop where they can run a quick battery inspection. And if you need to replace the battery, make sure that it’s the right battery type for your specific make and model of car.
10. Maintain your air conditioning
If you’ve ever lost your air conditioning on a hot summer day, then you know what a big difference a little cool air makes. The best way to tell if your air conditioner has a problem is if it can’t generate or maintain air temperatures that are 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) below the ambient outside air temperature.
The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused buy a leak somewhere in the system. Since modern air conditioning systems are complicated creatures, it’s best to have a professional check out the problem.
From all of us at Jim Gilbert’s Wheels & Deals we wish you and your family a fun, safe and huggable summer!!!