Prep your car for summer

Advance Auto PartsEveryone knows you’ve got to get your car ready for snow season, but don’t forget about summer, folks. Your car could always use a little love, and summer presents some unique automotive challenges and opportunities. If you want to maximize your fun in the sun, check out my tips for making this car summer the best one yet.

1. Check Your Air Conditioning System

The thing about air conditioning systems is they have a way of quitting at the worst possible time. You might be stuck in traffic on a 90-degree day, for example, or in the middle of a scorching summer road trip through the Midwest. Sounds nasty, right? That’s why I recommend taking preemptive action and getting your air conditioning system checked before the summer months really heat up. Just head over to your trusted mechanic and have him run some diagnostic tests; it won’t cost you very much, and if anything needs fixing, you’ll be glad you didn’t find out the hard way.

2. Bring Out that Summer Shine

Washing your car in the winter months can seem pointless, because you’re just going to get it dirty again the next time you drive somewhere. But now that summer’s finally here, it’s worth putting in some quality time with your car’s paint and wheels. That means you’re going to want some car wash supplies, and I’m going to show you the absolute easiest way to achieve car detailing nirvana: just grab a bottle of Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash and Wax Anywhere. You don’t even need water! Just spray this stuff on your paint, grab a microfiber cloth, and wipe till dry. Don’t tell anyone, but I use it for my wheels, too. It only takes a few minutes to do the whole car, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

3. Check Your Washer Fluid

Most people are surprised by this one, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Winter brings inclement weather to most parts of the country, and that means folks have to squirt their windshields a lot more than usual. Result? Washer fluid reservoirs are often nearly dry by spring. Fortunately, that reservoir is usually right at the front of the engine bay, and it’s super-easy to open and refill yourself. Try this washer fluid from Rain X—I swear by it myself.

4. Focus on Inner Beauty

Last but not least, let’s not forget about the interior of your car. Like everything else, the cabin’s probably a little worse for wear thanks to winter stress. But that’s nothing a good scrub can’t fix. To remove all that winter dirt and grime from your dashboard and other hard-to-clean areas, try something like these interior detail brushes from Autocraft. And to get your upholstery looking fresh again, check out Turtlewax’s upholstery cleaner—it even leaves a protective coating when you use it.

5. Lubricate your Brakes

Another consequence of harsh winter driving is that your brakes have to work harder than usual. That means they could use some lubrication to get back up to snuff, so I recommend grabbing a bottle of Permatex’s Ultra Disc Brake Caliper Lube. It’s a cheap and incredibly effective product. If you’re not comfortable putting it on yourself, just bring it to your mechanic and ask him to give you a hand.

6. Enjoy the Drive!

Follow these tips and I promise you, you’ll be ready for anything summer’s got in store. Drive safe, friends, and have fun out there.

 

Editor’s note: As you plan to hit the road this summer, get trusted tips on how to maximize your mileage.

Checking Your Vehicle’s Essential Fluids and Hoses Provides Peace of Mind

hood up fixing car

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The same is true for your vehicle, especially when it comes to its essential fluids and hoses. Regular maintenance checks of these items will contribute to the sustained health of your vehicle and reduce your risk of unpleasant automotive surprises down the road. But where to start? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Essential fluids

High operating temperatures for your car, particularly during seasonal travel, mean more use of your air conditioner and an even stronger need to keep your engine well lubricated with enough coolant and oil. All fluid checks should be done while your engine is cold. This is VERY important because hot fluids can burn you.

All fluid checks should be done while your engine is cold. This is VERY important
because hot fluids can burn you.

  • Coolant: To check your coolant, unscrew the radiator cap and make sure the level is where it should be according to the line on the tank. If you’re low, topping off with a pre-mixed 50/50 coolant will save you time and fuss.
  • Motor oil: To check your oil, pull out the dipstick, wipe it down with a rag, and stick it back in. When you pull it out again, the oil should be at or above the line marked on the stick. If it’s too low, add a quart. Your owner’s manual will tell you what kind you need.
  • Windshield washer fluid: While you’re at it, check your windshield washer fluid. Your car may be able to survive without it, but a clear view of the road can be a life saver—literally. In most vehicles, washer fluid is blue and housed in a white plastic tank. Look on the side of the tank or open the cap covering the tank to check the fluid level.

For more helpful tips on checking essential fluids, read this.

Radiator hoses and spare tires

Fluids aren’t the only things that keep your vehicle running smoothly. Include these items in your regular inspections.

  • Radiator hoses: If coolant is the life blood of your engine, then radiator hoses are the arteries. So, while you’re under your hood, check your radiator hoses for leaks or wear. Squeeze the hoses and make sure they’ve got some give to them. If they’re hard and brittle or cracked, they should be replaced. It’s an easy job and far preferable to breaking down on the side of the road when you’re headed out to the lake with the family.
  • Spare tires: As long as you’re taking stock of your vehicle’s essentials, you may as well check your spare tire. First, make sure you have a spare tire in your car. Many vehicle manufacturers these days are eliminating spare tires as a standard feature. If you have a spare tire, make sure it’s properly inflated. Don’t forget to keep a tire iron in your trunk, along with any other equipment needed to change a tire by the side of the road. You can read through your owner’s manual to get a feel for what it takes to do the job. If you don’t have a spare tire on your vehicle, consider carrying a tire repair kit.

Many vehicle manufacturers these days are eliminating spare tires as a standard feature.

Checking the fluids and hoses on your vehicle will save you money and hassle. They’ll also give you something you can’t put a price on: peace of mind. Are there easy hose and fluid checks you perform on your vehicle? Leave us a comment.