Summer weather leads to rising temperatures. Millions of Americans are expected to take road trips during the summer months. Be prepared this summer and take the following precautions:
Check your tire pressure at least once a month and especially before a long trip maintaining the manufacturer recommended pressure (all 5 tires, including the spare tire) Check and clean your car battery terminals Replace wiper blades and refill washer fluid Do not overload your vehicle ~ overloading can create excessive heat inside your tires and result in vehicle damage and/or personal injury Check the tread and sidewalls of your tires, watch uneven wear pattern. “Uneven” means the tire is more worn on one edge. This usually means you need a wheel alignment. Also, run your fingers along the tread and feel for lumps. The presence of lumps could mean that the tire is not balanced correctly.
Severe thunderstorms and tropical weather systems can dump heavy rainfall over a short period of time making it extremely dangerous to navigate an automobile. Rivers, lakes, and ditches fill with water and overflow into low-lying or poorly drained areas. Urban and small stream flooding can occur in less than one hour. Do not attempt to drive though the water if you cannot see the road or its line markings. You will not be likely to judge the exact depth of the water or be certain that the road is intact underneath it. Moving water exerts pressure on a car. As water depth increases or a greater area is exposed to moving water, the pressure exerted increases and can wash the car away. The surface of the road is affected as it becomes slippery. Water, sand and mud are now what the vehicle is resting on and can cause it to be swept away. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and potentially stall your engine. One foot of water can move most cars off the road. SUVs are even more prone to be swept away due to their size and larger tires making them more buoyant. If your vehicle stalls or is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance...Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too! Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.
A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval Cooling System The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer. Engine Performance Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drive-ability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly.Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Carry some basic tools — ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight.