How to Guides

How To Prep Your Vehicle for Summer

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 9, 2014

Preparing your car for the endless days of summer is just as important as getting it ready for winter.  Not only will the heat affect your car, but you are more likely to take your car out on long trips.  Before you deck out in red, white and blue for the 4th of July, make sure that your vehicle is hot weather ready.

Is Your Car Wheel-ie Ready?

Your tires took a beating over the winter and should have been checked right after the first weed started sprouting in your garden.  Wheels are that part of your car that can actually cause you to crash if you choose to ignore them.  Do a close examination of each tire.  Bubbles in the sidewalls are bad as is uneven wear or bands of wear.  Stick a penny in the tread.  If Abe gets lost than you don’t have enough.  Any of these conditions means you need to spring for new wheels.

If your tires look okay, make sure you also check the air pressure and fill them to the psi recommended in your owner’s manual.  Under inflated tires give you less traction with the road, a situation you don’t be in when that summer time thunderstorm booms in from nowhere.  Jack up your car, spin the tire and try to shake it.  This will tell you if the bearings are still in good shape.

One last thing about your tires, especially if you are planning long road trips.  Make sure your spare is in just as good as shape as the wheels on your car are, that you have a working jack and lug wrench in your car and a quick patch tire kit in case of emergency.  A puncture kit or fix-o-flat will work wonders in a pinch.

Make Sure You Can Brake For BBQ

Brake pads take a beating in the winter time, when you are often caught in stop and go traffic.  Plus they go through major temperature changes as they go from freezing cold to the high heat generated from their use.  Check your brake pads and replace them if they are close to the end or showing signs of cracking.  Also inspect the rotor for signs of heavy gauging or warping.  If the brake pads or rotor look worn, have them replaced before it’s time to start lighting the grill.

Brake pads and rotors are just a part of your braking system.  Open the master cylinder and check the level of brake fluid inside.  If need be top it off, and then drive around for a few days before checking again.  If you see a significant drop, you have a small leak somewhere that needs to be found and repaired before you run into big problems when trying to stop your car.

At The Car Wash

Okay, so you want the ride to look good when you hit the road to the beach.  And you don’t want your buddies sitting on piles of old take-out wrappings.  But the real reason why you should take your car for a good shower is that winter is known to just throw filth at your car.  Salt, ice, sand, water, you name it, it got into every nook and cranny of your car.  Your interior?  How many wet, slushy boots climbed in during the winter and messed up your carpet?  Have your car cleaned

inside and out, using high quality detergents and pressure washers.  The inside should be vacuumed and upholstery cleaned as well.

Don’t forget to have the engine cleaned as well.  You would be amazed at the places where corrosive salt can end up.  Plus, with an engine that is free from gunk you are able to see and leaks or aging parts that need to be replaced better.

Freshen Up the Fluids

In addition to the above mentioned brake fluid, you should do a run through of all of your cars fluids. 

  • Motor oil should be kept at the fill line and checked for viscosity. Always check the lever while the car is running and wipe the dipstick clean before taking the reading.  If it looks like a black mud in there, don’t just add more oil, but have it changed before hitting the road Jack.
  • Engine coolant is liquid gold in the summer time.  Check to make sure you have plenty, and that the reservoirs are full too.  This is another one of those items where keeping a back up in the trunk of your car during is not a bad idea.  Engine overheats have a funny way of sneaking up on you on a hot day, and that extra coolant may help you get the car home without blowing a head gasket.
  • The automatic transmission fluid is often overlooked, but deserves your attention as well. The dipstick will have two separate readings, one for when the engine is hot and one for cold.  Check the fluid both times to make sure you have plenty to keep your gears changing.
  • Power steering fluid is another oft forgot maintenance item.  Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost that function during a rainstorm.  Top that one off as well to stay on the safe side of the road.
  • The car battery has fluid too, and in the hot summer months it has been known to evaporate.  If you need to top off your battery, use only distilled water to avoid any damage.  And hey, while you’re there, check that the cables are securely in place and there are no signs of discharge on the battery.

Wishy Washy Wipers

Your windshield wipers took a beating over the winter trying to move all that ice and snow out of your way.  Plus the cold weather probably did a number on the rubber blades.  You are going to need the wipers during the summer, not just for when it rains, but to help keep the windshield clear of pollen.  This is a cheap, quick fix that you will be thankful for in the upcoming months.

Keeping your vehicle well maintained is part of being a responsible car owner.  If you want your car to be efficient and keep you safe you should be running regularly scheduled maintenance checks all year round, especially in between major season changes.