While the polar vortex may be on its way back up north (for now), winter is still roaring on in many parts of the country. Hopefully many have already taken the steps to make sure their car is winter ready, but it can stand repeating how some of these tips can help you make it to spring. Hey, at least spring training is right around the corner!
It's hard to believe that another Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone already. For many, Memorial Day Weekend ushers in the official start of summer, and often that means beginning to think about that family summer road trip! However, before you begin to think about traveling, you might want to think about giving your main mode of transportation a "once over" before heading anywhere.
Remember that summer heat and humidity can really do a number on your car's internals.
Here are ten tips to help you get ready, and save both time and money.
1) Radiator Check
Don't forget, overheating is one of the biggest reasons for cars to breakdown in the summer. Of course, make sure that the engine is cool before inspecting it! Places to check include the radiator, the hoses and cap for damage and be sure to repair it if needed. Given the importance of airflow around the radiator, be sure to clear any dirt and debris.
2) Coolant Check
As its name implies, you want to make sure you have enough coolant and that it's level. Make sure to look at your owner's manual for the correct coolant to distilled water ratio. Bear in mind too that coolant needs to be flushed on a regular basis. If you haven't the foggiest when the last time was that happened, head to the shop before the road trip starts.
3) Inspect Belts and Hoses
Over time, belts and hoses near your engine may begin to fray, crack or even leak. As you could imagine, summer heat and humidity will only degrade these vital parts even more.
4) Battery Test
There is nothing worse than a dead battery when you're far away from home. High temperatures can weaken the battery, causing vital fluids to evaporate. Worse, any dirt that accumulates can act as a conductor and drain power as well. Make sure that it gets tested, and if more than three years old, a replacement may potentially be in order as well.
5) Check Tire Pressure and Wear
Fluctuating temperatures can have an equal fluctuation on your tires' air pressure with hot asphalt having the potential to do even more damage. Check your tires on the first day of each month, making sure the pressure levels are good and don't need a rotation. As always, don't forget about that spare tire as well!
6) Air Conditioner
If you go to pop on your A/C, and a less than optimal cool breeze comes out of your vents, then that might need an inspection. Be sure to remove any dirt or bugs that might be impacting air flow. Other problems could involve a clogged condenser or low refrigerant levels.
7) Oil Change
The most common maintenance item any car owner will probably have, but also one of the most important. Make sure to check with your mechanic on the best type of oil to use. If you'll be in higher temperatures, then an oil brand designed for those type of conditions might be required. While each vehicle's recommend oil change requirements might be different, the common denominator is to make sure you don't avoid them entirely.
8) Transmission Fluid
Those scorching temperatures can lead to the breakdown of transmission fluid. This is a vital one to check especially if you plan on hauling a boat or camper anywhere for your road trip.
9) Windshield Wipers
Ever been in a torrential downpour, turned the wipers on full blast only to find they're leaving nothing but vision impairing streaks? Make sure the rubber on the wipers hasn't cracked or separated from the frame. This is a great time to fill up on windshield washer fluid as well.
10) Wash and Wax
Finally, wrap up your prep work by giving your vehicle some love with a wash and wax. While it may seem it's only there for style, your vehicle's paint also acts as a protective cover.
You should be on your way now for your road trip and ready to soak in the rays! Safe travels and enjoy the summer!