Keeping your car in shape is important any season; a “healthy” car means optimum gas mileage, longer vehicle lie, not to mention better overall performance. But in the heat of the summer, making sure your car is in its best shape is even more important. Here are 5 basic tips to ensure your car is ready for summer driving:
1. Air Conditioning. If you have an older car or are question the system’s performance, have it examined by a qualified technician. A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. If you have a newer vehicle, your system likely has cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner’s manual for location and replacement interval.
2. Cooling System. The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. Every 24 months, the cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically (a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended). *Attention Do-It-Yourself-ers: never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! And leave it to a pro to check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses.
3. Oil. “Duh,” right? 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.
4. Engine Performance. In dusty conditions like dry Steamboat summers, replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) more often than recommended. Get any engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
5. Windshield Wipers. Invest in good wipers and replace worn blades when needed. Have plenty of windshield wiper solvent. A dirty windshield (mud, dust, bugs) causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard.