Hot weather is on the way and it will be here before you know it. Much like the winter months, the summer season is equally challenging to your vehicle. Although your car is designed to withstand temperature extremes, high temperatures can take a toll on your vehicle, including your battery, fluids, and air conditioning system.
How to Prepare Your Car for the Summer
A thorough inspection of your car at least twice annually will ensure that it is ready for the seasons ahead. As summer approaches, we recommend checking the following as part of your inspection.
Inspect the battery.
Your battery may have survived a cold winter, but summer’s heat might do it in. We advise checking the car battery to ensure that both cable connections are clean and secure. This includes verifying that the clamps are in place. You can use a multimeter to determine if your battery has enough power left. If not, change it now to avoid becoming stranded later.
Check tire pressure and condition.
Tires are what separate your car from the ground, therefore it is very important to ensure that they’re doing their job. We recommend checking tire pressure at least once monthly for all four tires. Don’t forget to check the spare. Verify that there is enough tread remaining. If not, the treadwear bars are likely in full view. Change tires in pairs or in all fours. Per your owner’s manual, rotate tires periodically. Align the wheels as needed.
Look at the brakes.
Just before brake service is required, you may notice changes including squealing and perhaps a slight vibration. If you hear a grinding sound, don’t wait! You need to have your car serviced and the pads, shoes, rotors, and drums checked. That inspection will also include fluid leaks.
Replace the wiper blades.
Wiper blades only last so long as they deteriorate over time. Once you observe streaking or anything that obscures the road ahead, it is time to replace the blades. You should replace the rear window blades if you have them as well.
Examine belts and hoses.
Rubber does a decent job of resisting temperature extremes, nevertheless, this material does eventually wear out. Underneath the hood, you’ll find a series of belts and hoses that connect the coolant system and work with your engine. Hoses are especially vulnerable as they may crack, split, bulge, or become weak under various conditions. Check for leaks underneath your vehicle as that’s a sure sign something is not right.
Observe all fluids.
Likely, you are in the habit of checking the engine oil; periodically inspecting oil levels between changes is important. Add oil as needed. Change as required. Other fluids to inspect include coolant, transmission, brake, and power steering. Each fluid should be at the correct level per your vehicle’s requirements. Add fluids as necessary or change them at the intervals listed in the owner’s manual.
Run the air conditioning.
One person’s air conditioner is another individual’s climate control system. No matter what you call it, you’ll want to ensure that it always supplies cool, crisp air to the cabin. Especially on hot days. Turn the air conditioning system on, setting the fan to its highest setting. Then drop the temperature to its lowest level. If the airflow and temperature work according to design, then everything is OK. If not, you may need to have the system diagnosed. Also, this is a good time to inspect the cabin filter, replacing it as required.
Once your vehicle is ready for the heat ahead, you’re all set to hit the road. As a reminder, check your emergency kit to ensure that the appropriate supplies are on hand. Finally, verify that your roadside assistance plan is up to date. If not, get that done especially before taking a long journey this summer.
See Also — Child Heatstroke Dangers and Your Car