Winter is in the rearview mirror, and with the absence of snow, ice, and lower temperatures, your car can take it easy, right? Wrong! Hot weather takes its own toll on car performance and durability, so when the heat rises you need to pay just as much attention to your vehicle as you do during the winter. With some basic maintenance and upkeep, your car will continue running smoothly even during the dog days of August. Just take these steps when preparing your car for the summer.
Test the Battery
While lower temperatures play havoc with your battery, causing it to lose its charge and run out of power, hot weather can also be punishing to the chemical processes that build a charge. What’s more, you’re running more things off the battery during summer, especially the air conditioning system. Check how old your battery is. It should be replaced every three years, so have it tested to see if it’s still working at optimal levels.
Check Your Coolant Levels
Antifreeze is great for preventing the fluid in your radiator from freezing, but you need to make sure the coolant in your car can handle the hot weather as well. The more you drive in hot weather, the hotter it gets under the hood. Check your dashboard when you’re driving to see if the engine is staying cool—if the needle is creeping into the red zone, get it checked immediately. Note any grinding or other unpleasant sounds, as well as sweet smells, from the hood—your car may be overheating and working too hard. Also, look for green or orange puddles forming under your car, indicating a leak in the system. Either way, bring in your vehicle for service.
Check the Tires
Heat causes gases to become agitated and expand, and the air in your tires might be putting extra and unnecessary pressure on them. Check your tires and ensure that they’re inflated to the proper PSI levels, accounting for the rising heat. Also, inspect your tires to ensure they still have enough tread on them and that no bubbles, cracks, or similar surface abrasions or scars are present. Hot weather increases the likelihood of a blowout, so take care of your tires and they’ll take care of you.
Inspect and Replace the Oil
When preparing your car for the summer, don’t forget the oil. Oil is the lifeblood of your car. Gas makes it go, but oil ensures the engine runs smoothly and cleanly. When it gets hot, the oil in your engine becomes thinner and has a tougher time keeping every part of the system properly lubricated. The best way to help oil do its job is to check it weekly with the dipstick and top it off when it gets low. If it’s dirty, bring it in to the garage for a change or do it yourself. Use a thicker weight like 10W-30 so it retains its viscosity even when the mercury is rising.