It might feel like winter will never end, but it will. Here's how to get your car ready for summer so you enjoy the sun not the garage when it does.
Get Your Car Ready for Summer: Be Nice Weather Ready
While you might be wondering if this winter will ever end, the fact is soon enough temperatures will begin to rise. That’s great since it means road trip season isn’t too far away. Instead of just focusing on where you want to go next, you should also be concentrating on how to get your car ready for summer. After all, with summer comes not just warmer weather, but downright brutal heat. It’s true that winter puts a strain on your car, but the other end of temperature extremes does as well. In addition, going on long road trips and other summer excursions can also place extra demands on your car. The good news is a little bit of preparation can go a long way to having a summer of fun instead of stress.
Perhaps one of the most common and vexing problems with a car in the summer is cooling system problems. While your car relies on this system and its components all year, when temperatures climb it becomes absolutely critical.
It only takes one time of having your engine overheat in the middle of nowhere before you realize why neglecting your car’s cooling system when you get your car ready for summer is a bad idea. Being stranded with steam pouring out from under your hood is absolutely no fun. Not only that, an overheating engine can suffer expensive damage.
Unless your owner’s manual says otherwise, the cooling system in your car should be fully flushed every 24 months. You can do that yourself, but it’s a messy job, so taking your ride to a shop is recommended. In between flushes, regularly check the coolant level, plus its visual condition and concentration using a tester tool.
With the engine completely cold, squeeze the radiator hoses. If any of them feel stiff or brittle, replace them. Also, check the hose attachments and tighten or replace them if necessary.
Never, ever remove the radiator cap on a hot car. It will spray you, and everything around you, with very hot coolant. On pressurized coolant systems, you should also not remove the cap on the coolant overflow reservoir for the same reason.
Also super important, air conditioning keeps you comfortable and sane in the summer months. Your car will work without it, but depending on where you’re driving, you might suffer greatly without it. There are a few things you should do with the system to get your car ready for summer before heading out for summer fun.
First off, test it out once the weather is warm enough to do so. If it’s not working properly, have a shop take a look at it. You can try recharging the system yourself with a simple kit you can get at hardware stores. If there’s a big leak, those kits will only provide temporary relief, because a major component or so needs to be replaced.
Don’t forget to check the cabin air filter. If it’s clogged this puts an extra strain on the air conditioning system. On most newer cars the filter is located behind the glove box.
Summer weather means summer storms. While not as brutal as winter storms, you still need to see properly. For the same reason, dust storms require your wipers to be working optimally.
Shops will tell you if your wipers are streaking you need to replace the blades. That might be, but it’s not always the case. Throughout the year, your wiper blades are exposed to all kinds of dirt and grime. That cakes onto the rubber and can lead to streaking. Just take a microfiber cloth and wipe the blade from end to end, removing any buildup. If after that the wipers are still streaking, install some new ones yourself. It’s a simple job shops love to do for you, but you’ll pay an extreme price for it.
If you put winter tires on your ride, congratulations! That was a smart move, but as the weather warms, it’s time to take them off. Winter tires will be absolutely destroyed in hot temperatures, so keep them ready to go for the next winter.
Whatever tires you’re using, have them rotated and balanced about every 4,000 to 5,000 miles. If the wear bars are exposed in the tread, it’s time to get new tires. A good way to keep tires for as long as possible is to check the air pressure every month, refilling them to match what your car’s manufacturer recommends.
Neglecting your tires puts you and everyone riding in your car in extreme danger. A tire which suddenly blows out can cause your vehicle to roll or spin out of control, especially at freeway speeds. Low tire tread negatively affects handling, acceleration, and stopping performance.
Believe it or not, your oil goes through serious punishment in the summer. Not only are you putting more miles on your car, higher temperatures are strenuous for oil. If you switched the weight your using in the winter, switch back to one recommended by the manufacturer for the summer heat.
Before you head out on summer adventures, make sure your engine oil is fresh. If not, get a quick oil change.
Other Liquids and Filters
While you’re at it, check the other fluids under the hood. Cold and hot weather can do interesting things to car fluids, so examining each reservoir level before you head on vacation is an excellent idea.
Also, pull the air intake filter and inspect it. Replace it if you see significant dirt, or if you have a washable kind do the whole cleaning routine to get your car ready for summer.
Before you hit the road for a summer trip, put an emergency kit in the trunk or cargo area. It doesn’t have to be huge, but you should pack some essential items. First aid supplies like bandages and something to clean wounds is advisable. Pack at least a gallon of water, which can be used to keep you and others hydrated, or in a pinch to get an overheating car to civilization. Bringing along some extra food, sunscreen, and a power bank to charge your phone is just being extra smart when you get your car ready for summer.