Summer Car Care and Maintenance
Summer means longer days, barbeques, and pools. It’s not likely that car maintenance would be the first thing on your mind, but it’s important to remember that summer’s extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on your car. Make sure your car is ready for summer fun by following these tips and giving it a little TLC.
Keep Your Exterior Clean
Keeping the outside of your vehicle clean not only looks better, it helps extend the life of your paint too! Leftover salt from winter roads can cause rust, and bugs left on your front bumper can mean pockmarks because of the acid eating away at your paint. Go for a wash as soon as possible after a road trip, your car will thank you. It’s important to note that dark vehicles are more susceptible to damage because they generate more heat when sitting in the sun. More surface heat means more opportunity for blistering and imperfections. If you’re feeling fancy, get your car waxed. A layer of wax between your cars finish and the sun’s UV rays is a great way to get a little extra protection. Also, don’t forget to check your tires. As the temperatures climb, so does the risk of a blowout. Using your vehicle’s digital monitoring system is great, but it’s better to use a manual gauge and check the tire pressure yourself. The manufacturer’s recommended pressure should be listed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door. Even good tires can lose about one pound of pressure per month, so it’s best to be diligent and check the pressure at least once a month.
Protect the Interior
It pays to take care of your leather seats and protect them from the sun and its heat. To keep your seats in tip-top shape and avoid cracks or tears keep your seats clean and use a leather conditioner. Seat covers can also help leather or fabric seats stay cool. Use a windshield sunshade. These tinfoil-esque reflectors can help keep your car cool and reduce sun damage. They’re sold almost everywhere, so it doesn’t hurt to grab one. Getting caught in the summer heat is the worst, that’s why it’s best to inspect your AC at the start of the season. A sluggish AC system could mean the refrigerant levels aren’t what they should be, so it pays to get it checked out by a professional. Also, switching out your air filter is a must. Dirt, dust and other contaminants are your engine’s worst enemy. Getting dirt in your engine could open a Pandora’s box of car problems, including reduced gas mileage and ruining your engine’s management system.
Check Under the Hood
The possibility of your car overheating increases when your fluid levels are below recommended levels. Most engine fluids lubricate and act as coolants and help carry heat away. The cooling effect is reduced when fluid levels are low, increasing the possibility of overheating. Check all vehicle fluids, including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid, to ensure they are at appropriate levels.
The easiest way to protect your car is to park in the shade. Avoiding direct sunlight can help prevent your dash from drying and cracking. It’s the easiest form of vehicle protection!
It’s also a good idea to stock up on provisions and keep a small emergency kit in your trunk. Throw in some water, a flashlight, first aid kit, blankets, reflectors, jumper cables, a phone charger, snacks, tow straps, and duct tape. Emergencies happen, so it’s best to be prepared for whatever life throws at you.