With fireworks and fanfare, summer has officially arrived. Every part of your car is put under stress in extremely warm weather. Fluids diminish, components dry, crack, and corrode much quicker than the winter months.
To keep you and your four-wheeled-best-friend cruising coolly through the summer months, here are our top five car care tips for hot weather.
Summer car care tip #1: Keep cool
Maintaining your car’s cooling system during the summer is number one in summer car care tips. It’s what prevents the engine from overheating. The coolant is a 50-to-70 percent mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water. It is pumped through the engine, out a rubber hose, and into the radiator, where the heat is dispersed into the air by a fan and airflow as you drive, and cooled back into the engine.
You want to quickly catch if your system springs a leak. Belts and hoses connecting the system can develop cracks and tears from extreme weather temps. The radiator cap maintains pressure and acts as a safety release unless it’s not on tight enough. It is important to note that warm weather uses up coolant more quickly, too.
Every week or so after your car has been parked for a few hours, check under it to assure it is not leaking any coolant. Coolant smells sweet, like syrup, and is usually a bright color. Warning signs of coolant issues can also include the temperature gauge rising near the red zone, steam, white smoke, hissing under the hood, and/or a strong sweet or burnt sugar scent.
Check coolant levels by looking at the transparent white refill container under the hood of your car. Car Talk advises, if the engine is hot, the level should read at or just below the max line; if the engine is cold, the coolant level should read at or just above the minimum or fill line.
In addition to maintaining the coolant level, it is also important to consider that coolant loses effectiveness over time. It loses the ability to both to cool and protect the radiator from corrosion. When seasons change from winter months to extreme weather, it’s a good idea to get your system checked and flushed, especially as debris collects and can clog the system.
Summer car care tip #2: Hard-working wipers
After the winter months of snow, ice, and a daily cycle of freeze and defrost, even the most reliable rubber is likely to become cracked and torn. Ragged wiper blades are a driver’s worst nightmare in summer’s sudden downpours. It’s cheap and easy to replace your own wiper blades; pick them up from any hardware or auto store (and many will replace them for you if you prefer).
As with all car fluids, windshield cleaner runs out quicker in the summer, so check levels regularly. This is another easy task to do yourself; simply open the hood and locate the reservoir, usually near the base of the windshield.
Summer car care tip #3: Bet on belts
Engine belts are essential to every vehicle function, so keeping your eyes and ears on them is the best bet for avoiding a summer breakdown. Belts need to be replaced regularly (based on your type of car), but extremely warm weather increases the chance they will become loose or misaligned, wear out, or exposed to fluids from leaks.
Visually check belts for missing chunks, cracks, embedded debris, and glazing, which indicates wear or oil on the belt.
You want to avoid issues with upkeep while cruising safer throughout the summer by simply watching for warning signs. Belt problems are indicated by a burnt rubber smell, squeaking or squealing when you accelerate or chirping at low speeds.
Summer car care tip #4: Triple tread
Our two cents when it comes to tires? A penny for your thoughts and a penny for your treads.
Remember to check your tires once a month for three things–think wear, air, and spare.
Worn-out tires are dangerous, especially in the summer, when hot wheels become more at risk for leaks, succumbing to sharp objects, and slipping on rainy roads. But it’s easy to check your tire tread–with Lincoln’s head! Start by inserting a penny, upside down, into the groove; when the tread doesn’t cover the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new tires. Rotating your tires every 6,000 miles helps prevent uneven tire wear. Cracks, cuts, and bulges in the sidewall are all warning signs that can contribute to the need for new tires.
Checking tire pressure is especially important in the summer, for fuel economy, safety, and to avoid blowouts from hot pavement. It’s easy to check the air pressure yourself, too. A car’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) is located on the drivers-side doorjamb and a small personal pressure gauge can be found at any auto store for only about five dollars.
Lastly, remember there are actually five tries to pay attention to – don’t forget to check the spare, too.
Summer car care tip #5: Coolness kit
A summer car-care kit goes a long way toward keeping you and your ride cool all summer long, inside and out. A sunshade, and a cardboard or plastic screen that covers your windshield completely, block the sun from roasting the interior of your car.
It’s always a good idea to carry a gallon or two of water in your vehicle, in case your car or passengers overheat. Sunscreen, antihistamine, towels, and wipes will also help maintain your summer cool, inside and out.
Finally, Fix-a-Flat, a can of emergency foam used to temporarily fix a tire, can save the day on a long road trip or when you have a car full of kids you need to get out of the heat.
Some finals summer car care tips can also include checking and changing your oil, checking to make sure your air conditioning is running properly and testing your car’s battery life.
From beaches to barbecues, these summer car care tips will keep you cruising coolly along every sun-soaked mile!
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