Hollywood, MD – The arrival of the warmer months is the ideal time to make sure your vehicle is in good working condition.

The high temperatures of spring and summer can be tough on everything from the paint to the tires. When the weather is warming up, your vehicle is subjected to harsher than normal conditions. With preventative maintenance, you can lessen the odds of getting stranded in the heat. Your vehicle should last longer and should also command a higher resale price, according to this website

Some of the tips you can do on your own, and some require a skilled automotive technician.

A marginal air conditioning system will fail in hot weather. You should have your system examined by a qualified technician. Newer car models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. You should check your owner’s manual for location and replacement interval. 

The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system on your car should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. Be sure to check the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. If you’re going to flush the system on your own, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a professional.

Make sure you change your oil and oil filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or as recommended in your owners manual. If you make frequent short trips through town, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer, you should change your oil every 3,000 miles. 

For optimum engine performance, you should replace other filters, like air, fuel or PCV. Change them more frequently if your environment is dusty. Hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, and other engine drive-ability problems can be corrected at a good shop.

A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn windshield wiper blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.

Inspect all lights and bulbs on your vehicle, and replace burned out bulbs. Practice preventative maintenance by periodically cleaning dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Using a new or used dryer sheet should get the bugs off your lights and grill safely and without scratching the surfaces.

When you change your oil, consider having your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month, specifically when they’re cold before driving for any distance. Tires that are over or underinflated can reduce the vehicle’s handling capability or generate excess heat, causing a blowout. 

Although most newer cars have an on-board tire pressure monitoring system, get a good quality tire pressure gauge, such as a dial-type analog unit or digital gauge. Don’t forget to check the pressure in your spare tire, too. It’s like an insurance policy. 

Have a jack on hand and in good condition. You should examine the tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping, Make sure to check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment should be considered if there’s uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side. 

Vehicle brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual. You should check them sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly before they get worse. 

Batteries don’t fail just in the summer time, but it’s better to check your battery than be stranded in the heat. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with equipment used by professionals. Keep a pair of jumper cables in your vehicle so you will be prepared If you find yourself with a dead battery,. 

You should also consider routine battery care like scraping away corrosion from posts and cable connections, and cleaning all surfaces. Re-tighten all connections while cleaning. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. You should avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Make sure to wear eye protection and rubber gloves while cleaning.

Talk to your local automotive technician for suggestions on what emergency tools to carry. Make sure to include a first aid kit, a blanket, flares, a flashlight with spare batteries, and a phone charger cable with auto and wall plugs.  

The heat of the summer sun can cause cosmetic damage to your car and make it harder to cool off inside when it’s time to drive, according to Autotrader. Protect your paint and interior by parking in a garage or under an awning when possible.

Regularly wax your vehicle using a polish with UV protection to reduce sun damage and paint fading. Protect the interior, too. Purchasing a sunshade that keeps sunlight from coming in the windshield can reduce fading, drying and cracking inside your vehicle, and keep you cooler when you sit down behind the wheel. Consider tinting your windows, but check state regulations for how dark the tint can go. 

Preparation and preventative maintenance are the keys to handling hot weather. Not only will you and your vehicle be better prepared to survive the heat, but you’ll also make the most of your summer by enjoying the freedom that the vehicle can offer. 

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Jacqui Atkielski can be contacted via email at j.atkielski@thebaynet.com