Summer is here, which means vacations, road trips and sunny skies. Enjoying the warm months and spending more time outdoors is a great thing, but you’ll need a functioning car to get to your destination. Summer car maintenance is an important part of any car-care routine, and if done correctly, it can offer protection against breakdowns and savings at the fuel pump. Many common car issues can lower your gas mileage.
1. Check Your Tire Pressure
Improperly inflated tires are responsible for many accidents that could have been avoided. Despite these dangers, statistics from the Rubber Manufacturers Association show that only 10 percent of drivers check their tire pressure as often as they should.
- Low tire pressure could result in a blowout. If this happens while you’re traveling at high speeds, it could mean your life.
- Over inflation could lead to an increased risk of skidding in bad weather.
- Misaligned tires and those with worn tread are also a hazard.
It’s a good idea to check your tire pressure every time you do an oil change or whenever the weather shifts. Tire pressure gains about two pounds per square inch every time the temperature climbs 10 degrees.
You should also inspect your tread. You can do this by taking a penny, placing it in one of the grooves and checking to see if the head is showing. If it is, you may need new tires.
Before taking off on a summer adventure, be sure to check your spare tire! Realizing it’s flat when you need it most will probably put a damper on your fun.
2. Replace Your Wiper Blades
Windshield wipers can suffer a lot of wear and tear during the winter. Therefore, early spring is a good time to consider having them replaced. It’s always important to maintain wiper blades, but summer thunderstorms make it an especially crucial issue during the hottest parts of the year. If you’ve ever driven in hard rain, you know how scary the visibility loss can be. The last thing you need is to get caught without wipers in a downpour!
You should replace your wiper blades when:
- You see cracks and tears in the rubber.
- They start leaving streaks.
You can have your wiper blades replaced by a mechanic. You can also replace them yourself. If you choose the latter, visit an auto store and ask for help to ensure you pick out the right blades for your car.
3. Give Your Radiator a Little Love
Your radiator does a lot to protect your engine, and you shouldn’t neglect it when preparing your car for the summer. Overheating is a common problem that can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s always dangerous for your engine. When metal becomes too hot, it can melt.
- Have your hoses, pumps, thermostats and fans inspected and possibly replaced before the start of summer.
- Consider having your radiator flushed at least once every two years.
- Periodically measure your coolant levels in between maintenance checks.
If you notice that your car is overheating, pull over as soon as possible. A healthy car doesn’t overheat, and if you push it, you could end up with a disastrous repair bill.
4. Refresh Your Air Conditioning
If you live somewhere with sweltering summer weather, you don’t want to take your air conditioning for granted. When your air-conditioning system goes without maintenance for a while, refrigerant levels can drop too low. If you notice that your system isn’t cooling the way it used to, it’s time for maintenance. If it’s been a while since your air conditioner has been recharged, you might want to go ahead and give it a go. Taking care of your maintenance at once will make it easy to keep track of when you will need to do everything again.
Small problems can lead to big problems, and it’s always better to be one step ahead of a breakdown than it is to find yourself sweating by the side of the road. Paying a little for maintenance rather than a lot for repairs will give you more money to play with this summer.