All too often, vehicle owners overlook the negative effects that hot summer weather can have on a car. Fortunately, some basic maintenance can go a long way towards preventing common problems associated with hot temperatures, stop-and-go traffic, and even dust, pollen, and other allergens. Let’s take a look at 5 of the fastest and simplest ways that you can prepare your vehicle for the scorching summer months.
1. Inspect Your Tires
Hot concrete can make your tires more susceptible to damage. Experts recommend rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, so make sure your tires are comfortably within that timeframe. You should also check your tires’ pressure monthly and before driving long distances. Inspect your tires for uneven tread wear, and get your car aligned if any is detected. Tire maintenance is going to reduce your chances of running into problems on the road, and can also improve your car’s fuel economy as much as 10 percent, according to Forbes.
2. Replace Your Cabin Air Filters
Just like your air conditioning unit at home, your car’s air filters can become clogged with dust, pollen, and other tiny airborne debris. Usually replacing the air filters is an easy task, and it can improve your air conditioner’s performance while also preventing allergies. According to Cars.com, the maintenance schedule for your car’s air filters tends to vary depending on where and how often you drive, but an average estimate is around every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should have more specific maintenance scheduling information.
3. Check the Oil and Coolant
Lubrication and cooling fluids are critical for preventing overheating on hot days. According to a blog post from automotive specialists, Enjuku Racing, mechanics recommend changing your oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles. Experts recommending flushing and refilling your car’s cooling system every 2 years. However, if you’re driving long distances during the summer or driving more frequently than usual – a summer road trip for example – you’re going to want to check both fluids more often. If you’ve relied on mechanics in the past, consult your car’s manual and try doing it yourself. It’s surprisingly easy!
4. Test Your Battery
According to CNN, batteries deteriorate faster than usual in hot weather. Car batteries tend to last between 5 and 7 years, but the lifespan decreases when you’re driving frequently in sweltering summer weather. To be safe, you should consider having your battery tested if it’s more than 3 years old. A mechanic can check your battery’s charge using computer diagnostics equipment for a low fee.
Replacing the battery is usually a fairly easy task, but you may want to hire a mechanic if you’re not confident in your abilities. Some other simple ways that you can improve battery performance include tightening connections, scraping away corrosion from cable and post connections, and cleaning all surfaces. Always wear eye protection and rubber gloves when handling batteries to prevent exposure to harmful materials.
5. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out, so it’s always a good idea to have a backup solution just in case. Prepare a basic emergency kit, throw it in the trunk, and forget about it. Hopefully you never end up needing it, but you’ll be glad to have it if you ever do. Here are some essential items to include:
- Bottled water
- Basic car maintenance tools
- First-aid kit
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Jumper Cables
- Extra motor oil and coolant
- Tire pressure gauge
- A can of tire inflator and sealant
Listen to Your Vehicle
As you drive on hot summer days, remember that your car is more prone to breaking down than usual. Also, keep in mind that breaking down on a hot summer day can be quite an unpleasant experience, especially if you’re not adequately prepared. If your car starts to make strange sounds or act unusual, or if any of your notification lights alert you to a potential issue, play it safe and bring it in for an inspection as soon as possible.