Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Automotive Care – Tips for Taking Care of Your Car


Summer is a time of lazy days, warm nights and family vacations. For many people, it means cookouts and spending time with family members. However, summer brings with it more than just an excuse to head to the beach – it’s one of the harshest seasons for your car. In order to make sure that your vehicle stands the test of time, you need to know a few things about summertime-specific maintenance. Here are a few simple, effective tips for maintaining your vehicle through the dog days and beyond.

Trip Check

Summer is the season for travel, more so than any other time of year. However, while taking a vacation or embarking on a road trip can be exciting and a great way to spend more time with your family, it can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t take the proper steps before heading out. One of the most important things to do is inspect your car to make sure it’s roadworthy and won’t cause headaches later on. You’ll want to check the following:

Charging System: You’ll definitely want to have a charging system check done before you go anywhere. Make sure your mechanic checks your battery, the starter and the alternator. Summer heat can be a killer on these components.

Tire Condition and Pressure: Give some attention to your car’s tires. Is there a good amount of tread left? Is there any uneven wear? Do you need a rotation? Is there damage from your car being out of alignment? Is the tire pressure set properly? A good set of properly maintained tires can mean the difference between a safe trip and a serious accident.

Brakes: Your braking system is one of the most important on your vehicle. Make sure that you check brake pad thickness before heading out, and if you feel a pulsation in the pedal or seat when applying the brakes, you might consider having your rotors turned.

Wipers: Summertime is infamous for producing heavy thunderstorms. Your road trip might pit you against torrential rain, hail and high winds. Make sure that your windshield wipers are up to the challenge. Ideally, you should change your wiper blades roughly every six months or so. Make sure your wipers keep the windshield clear and look for any signs of damage or wear on the blades.

Fluids: Many of your car’s systems are hydraulic, and require specific fluids to operate. Make sure you check and top off any fluids under the hood, including transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid.

Coolant: To stay within its operating temperature and avoid overheating, your car relies on coolant circulating through the radiator and assorted pipes and hoses. Make sure you check the coolant level in your car (when the engine is cool). You should also visibly inspect all the hoses for signs of damage, wear and leaks.

Belts: The high heat ofsummer can mean death for your engine belts, particularly if they’re old and worn already. Make sure you check all the belts under the hood. Depending on your make and model, you might have a single serpentine belt, or several smaller belts. Give them a good eyeball to make sure they’re not cracked and about to break.

Don't let this be you!

Checking all of these systems can be time consuming and difficult if you’re not familiar with automotive technology. If you’re not comfortable inspecting any of these areas, take your car to a trusted mechanic and ask for a trip check before you head off. It can make a real difference in your safety and in your enjoyment of the summer months.

Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore, an auto flooring company based out Columbia, Missouri. Before AutoMatStore Elfrink was the operator of a automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on all-weather, logo, carpeted and molded car mats.


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