Preparing your car for extreme weather helps it to perform as expected. In cold weather, the battery is susceptible to failing, while in hot weather the engine is at risk of overheating. As summer approaches, now is an ideal time to review your maintenance schedule and handle those tasks that are due. Do not delay – waiting may lead to a breakdown or something worse.
Car Care Tips as Hot Weather Approaches
When summer temperatures approach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, your car is under severe stress. Road temperatures may be much higher, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
Inspect the air conditioning system.
There is nothing worse than driving on a hot day with warm air blowing from the a/c unit. To test a car’s air conditioning system, you should start by turning it on and making sure it blows cold air. Check the compressor for any leaks or damage, and make sure the belts are tight. Verify that the refrigerant levels are correct and check the condenser and evaporator for debris or clogs. If any issues are found, it’s recommended to have a professional mechanic perform further diagnostics and repairs.
Examine the cooling system and radiator.
To check a car’s cooling system, begin by inspecting the radiator and hoses for any leaks or cracks. Examine the coolant level and make sure it’s topped up to the appropriate level. Verify the radiator cap and thermostat are functioning correctly. Inspect the water pump for signs of damage and check the fans to make sure they’re operating correctly. When it comes to the refrigerant, check the level and look for any signs of leaks. If the level is low or there is a leak, have a professional mechanic perform further diagnostics and repairs.
Check the engine oil and oil filter.
Changing your motor oil regularly is wise. Keep within the maintenance parameters listed in the owner’s manual. Most drivers should follow a severe maintenance schedule, particularly if they operate in stop-and-go traffic. Use the recommended blend and grade of motor oil – take note that some cars require a special blend when operating in hot weather. Always change the oil filter at the same time.
Inspect the battery and charging system.
To check a car’s battery and charging system, begin by inspecting the battery terminals for corrosion or damage. Verify that the battery is securely mounted on its tray. Check the alternator belt and make sure it’s appropriately tensioned. Test the battery voltage with a multimeter and make sure it’s holding a charge. Inspect the alternator for any signs of wear or damage.
Check the tires and tire pressure.
To ensure long-lasting tires, check tire pressure at least once monthly. Follow the inflation guidelines as outlined on the placard fixed to the driver’s door jamb or found in the glove box. That information is also outlined in the owner’s manual. Do not neglect to check the spare tire! Rotate the tires regularly, typically every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Always replace worn tires in pairs or all four at once.
Examine the brakes and brake pads.
To check a car’s brakes and brake pads, start by inspecting the brake pads for wear and tear. Verify the brake calipers are functioning correctly and look for any leaks or damage. Check the brake fluid level and make sure it’s topped up to the appropriate level. Test the brakes for any sponginess or unusual noises.
Inspect the windshield wipers and wiper fluid.
One of the simplest checks involves the windshield wipers and fluid. Simply replace the blades when showing signs of wear – typically through streaking when operating – and top off the fluid, especially ahead of a long trip.
Scrutinize the belts and hoses.
To check a car’s belts and hoses, start by inspecting them for any signs of wear or damage. Verify that they’re tight and properly tensioned. There are several signs of belt and hose wear to look out for, such as cracks, splits, or bulges in the rubber. You may notice that the belts are slipping, making squealing or chirping noises when accelerating. Hoses can also develop leaks, which can cause coolant or other fluids to leak onto the ground. The engine may overheat, and you may notice a sweet smell coming from under the hood.
Examine the headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
Visually check all exterior lights to ensure that they’re functioning. These include daytime running lights, high- and low-beam headlights, fog lights, taillights, and turn signals. If a bulb is worn out, replace the matching pair at the same time.
Check the cabin air filter.
To check a car’s cabin air filter, locate the filter housing, which is usually located behind the glove box or under the dashboard. Remove the filter and inspect it for dirt, dust, or debris. If it’s dirty or clogged, replace it with a new filter. A dirty cabin air filter can cause reduced airflow and foul odors in the car’s cabin. It’s recommended to replace the cabin air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or every year, depending on the car’s make and model.
Inspect the engine air filter.
To check the engine air filter in a car, locate the air filter housing, which is usually located near the front of the engine. Open the housing and remove the air filter. Inspect the filter for dirt, dust, or debris. If it’s dirty or clogged, replace it with a new filter. A dirty engine air filter can cause reduced engine performance, decreased fuel efficiency, and increased emissions. It’s recommended to replace the engine air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, depending on the car’s make and model and driving conditions.
Prepping for Hot Weather
Just as we recommend washing and waxing your vehicle in advance of cold weather, we advise the same for summer, especially hot weather.
To wash your car, start by rinsing it with water to remove any loose dirt and debris. Then, apply car shampoo to a clean microfiber mitt and wash the car in sections, starting at the top and working your way down. Rinse the car thoroughly with water and dry it with a microfiber towel to prevent water spots.
To wax your car, start by choosing a high-quality car wax and applying it with a clean microfiber applicator pad in a thin, even layer. Allow the wax to dry to a haze, and then buff it with a clean microfiber towel. Waxing your car helps protect the paint from UV rays and environmental contaminants, and it also helps repel water and prevent water spots.
Regular washing and waxing can help maintain your car’s appearance and protect its resale value.
See Also — How to Get Your Car Ready for Cold Weather
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