It’s really heating up out there, folks, and we know some of you are thinking of hitting the road for vacations, but if you’re just tooling around town or taking off on the highway, there are a few things you should take a look at before you hit the gas.
1. How’s your air conditioning? If your system is getting by right now but maybe lacks that really cold blow it used to have, there’s a good chance that the summer heat will knock it out. Take it to a professional and have it checked out, tuned up and ready to bring the chill!
2. Sister concern to keeping you cool is keeping your engine cool. When it’s hot outside, you run even more risk of your vehicle overheating, so pay attention to your cooling system. Have the level, condition and concentration of your coolant checked out. Does your system need to be flushed and refilled? This should be taken care of about every 24 months, so find out when you last had it done, and if needed, get your car or truck in.
3. It’s always good to get an oil change before a long haul with lots of luggage (or towing), but even if you’re just skipping around town all summer, this is basic maintenance that shouldn’t be ignored.
4. Check your tires. National Tire Safety Week was last week, but we’re giving you FREE tire safety checks all month long! If you’re doing a check yourself, you’ll want to check the pressure (tire pressure changes with the outside air temperature–about 2 PSI for every 10 degrees) and tread wear (give it the old Abe Lincoln test). What you don’t want to forget: the spare. Make sure your spare is there for you when you need it by checking the air pressure when you check the rest of your tires.
5. Knock the winter off of your car. Change the snow tires back to all-season or summer tires and give your car a good cleaning–especially the undercarriage, which may just be caked with salt, mud and assorted muck from the long, hard winter.
6. Check those hoses and belts. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections (hoses should never be soft and malleable); check belts for cracking and other damage, and make sure they aren’t separating into layers.
7. Check your air filter. Air filters can become clogged by road salt, dust and other debris. Usually, air filters get changed about every 12,000 miles, but your particular driving conditions may alter that. Live on a dirt or gravel road? Been through a particularly cold winter? The places you go affect your air filter, so take a peek at it and see how it’s doing.
8. It sounds so simple, but it’s true–check your windshield wipers. This may be the easiest (and least expensive) fix you’ll have. Summer rainstorms can come on quick and heavy, so make sure your windshield wipers aren’t rotting away or otherwise impaired.
9. Check your brakes–there’s a lot riding on them. If you are noticing longer stopping distances, pulsations, grinding or scraping sounds, or if an indicator light shows up on your dashboard–get them checked.
10. Give your battery some love. Summer heat can be tough on batteries by evaporating the internal battery fluid and causing the chemical reaction inside of batteries to speed up and overcharge the battery (this can shorten the life of your battery). The best thing you can do for your battery this summer is to check the connections, clean them up and make sure they’re refastened tightly.
Summer should be fun, right? But there’s nothing fun about sitting on the side of the highway in deadly heat in the middle of nowhere because you didn’t do the maintenance required to keep your car running. So, keep your vacation fun and safe–take some time to have your car or truck thoroughly checked out before you hit the road.