Summer Vehicle Prep 101

By Social
In June 25, 2018
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It’s officially summertime, and that means the open road is very likely calling. But, before you head out on your next road trip, make sure that your vehicle is summer ready. Not only will it help your fuel efficiency, it will also help prevent a total breakdown. Here are few things to have checked before you load up the trunk and hit the highway.

Coolant System
A faulty coolant system can quickly lead to a breakdown due to an overheated radiator. When checking your coolant, you want to look at not only the level of coolant in your vehicle but also the condition of your hoses and the coolant reservoir. There shouldn’t be any leaks, especially at joints and connection points (i.e. clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine). It’s also a good idea to check the hoses, to make sure they are firm and not overly squishy or soft, as well as the clamps and drive belts. Belts should not look excessively slick or smooth. Make sure you do these checks AFTER the engine has thoroughly cooled.

Engine Belts
The serpentine belt, which runs between the alternator, fan, and several other parts, can deteriorate, become loose, and even squeal. To prevent this from happening, the belt needs to be in good condition and have the right amount of tension. If the belt is cracked or has small pieces missing, it will need to be replaced before you leave.

Wipers and Windshield
Even in the nicest of climates, there’s always the chance of a rain shower or two so it’s never a bad idea to check the condition of your wipers. After all, worn wipers can create nasty streaks across the windshield, and lead to eye fatigue, and visibility issues. While you’re checking your blades, also take note of your windshield washer fluid. Is it running low? Does your window itself need a cleaning? When purchasing new blades, make sure you are buying the correct ones for your car’s make, model, and year.

Essential Fluids
Engine oil, brake, and power-steering fluid never stop being used and consumed so they should be checked thoroughly before heading out the door, and topped up where necessary. After oil, oil is the lifeblood of your car, keep the engine parts running clean, smooth, and cool.

Brakes
Have you noticed your brakes lacking in bite or feeling a bit spongy? Or maybe your indication or warning lights have been showing up on your dashboard? Or, you’ve heard loud and constant scraping and grinding noises originating from your brakes. If so, you may need new brake pads, discs, shoes, or drums. Brake repair should always be done by a certified mechanic or dealership to make sure it’s done properly.

Air-Conditioning System
It’s easy to ignore any issues with your AC over the winter, but when it comes to having an enjoyable summer, a working AC is going to be a must-have. If you have an old vehicle leaking Freon, that’s a no-go, especially with plenty of leak-sealing products and refrigerant chargers readily available on the market.

Air Filter
Over the winter air filters, as well as drainage points, and windshield-washer nozzles can become clogged with dust, dirt, salt, and leaves. Be sure to give your filters, including pollen and cabin filtration systems, a thorough once-over for obvious blockages. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Lights
Check all your lights – headlights, brake lights, turn signal lights – to make sure they all work and replace any burnt out bulbs. It can’t hurt to also clean any dirt or insects from the lenses to increase your daytime, and nighttime, visibility.

Battery
Check your battery expiry date, scrape away any corrosion from posts and cable connections, clean all surfaces, and re-tighten all connections. If your battery caps are removable, also check the fluid level. Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing it to overcharge.

Tires
Tires should be inspected for alignment, correct pressure, cracks, uneven wear, and treads for stones or nails, and depth. An under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down, or misaligned tire can be very dangerous. Under-inflation can lead to a tire blowout and over-inflation, hydroplaning in wet conditions. When checking the pressure, consult your owner’s manual or the sidewall of your tire to see what the ideal pressure should be instead of just guessing. Use a tire gauge to ensure you’ve added enough air.

Run the same checklist on your spare tire, and if you don’t have a spare, get one! A spare will at least get you to the nearest mechanic for a proper tire repair. Also, make sure you have a jack in working condition and that you’re not still driving with your winter tires.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing the entire checklist on your own, that’s okay. Most mechanics should be able to do this type of inspection fairly quickly, and without breaking the bank. It’s an investment worth making so that your road trip is hassle-free.

Even after taking these precautions, breakdowns can still happen. We’re always just a phone call away to help save the day and get you back to your summertime adventures as quickly as possible!

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