Seasonal car care maintenance can prevent unexpected breakdowns
(Family Features) Whether you’re loading up the car for a road trip or taking a leisurely cruise around town with the windows down, hitting the pavement is a given for this time of year. However, taking advantage of the warm, sunny weather can be a disadvantage to your vehicle if you aren’t diligent about preparing it for the summer driving season.
“Summer is tough on cars, especially during high temperatures,” says Jessi Combs, a car care expert and fabricator who’s appeared on shows such as “Mythbusters,” “Overhaulin’” and “Xtreme 4×4.” “Drivers need to give their vehicles a little summer loving to make sure exploring the open road doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road.”
A simple automotive checkup of a few main areas can help prepare a vehicle for the heat and increase its reliability on long road trips. To avoid an unexpected breakdown, be sure to follow these four tips:
Coolant system: Check the level and strength of the coolant. The coolant system works overtime in the summer to keep engine temperatures stable, and a low coolant level may allow your engine to overheat. If low, add a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to keep the cooling system working effectively. If the coolant is in bad condition, it’s time to have the system flushed (usually every other year). As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir; hot steam and coolant may spray out and burn you.
Tires: To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure regularly. Under-inflated tires are more likely to blow out in high heat and can also reduce fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual (or look inside the driver’s side doorframe) to find the recommended air pressure rating for your vehicle. Be sure the spare is also inflated properly.
Oil: Most vehicles need an oil change every three to six months depending on what type of driving you do and on what oil change interval your OEM recommends for your vehicle. During hot summer months, use of a high performance synthetic motor oil should be considered, as synthetic motor oils such as Mobil 1 10W-30 or 15W-50 are extremely stable in high temperature conditions. Good high temperature stability translates into better protection for your engine. Check the owner’s manual for specific oil recommendations.
Battery: Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of your car’s battery. Hot summer weather increases the rate of evaporation of battery fluid, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. The average battery life is around five years. If the battery is old and weak, replace it. If it is relatively new, inspect the terminals and posts to make sure they are free of corrosion and dirt, have enough lubrication, and are tight.
“Don’t forget the little things you can do to keep your car cool,” says Combs. “Park in the shade whenever possible, consider buying a sun shade for the windshield to reflect light if the vehicle must be parked in direct sunlight, and leave the windows cracked so hot air can escape.”
Give your vehicle a good cleaning once a week. The body of the car should also be waxed or sprayed with a protectant to help shield the paint from UV rays from the sun.
For more information on vehicle maintenance, visit www.mobil1.com.