The wait for the hot, humid steam and happy days of summer is over. After a cold winter passing slower than snail mail, now’s the time to travel on the road. In fact, we are just starting to rebound to traffic levels prior to the pandemic. In AAA estimates, it was predicted that 39.2 million people would travel 50 miles or more from their homes on Memorial Day weekend, an increase of almost 9 percent from the previous year. But with a story development like that, will we be ready to travel during the dog days of summer? Is our vehicle in top shape? I’ll go over all these things to prepare my summer car for extended play days in the sun.

1. Check your AC system

Nothing is quite as important as air conditioning for ultimate car-owning luxury. You’ll want to check to make sure your AC unit is working. First, run it to see if the air blows and if the temperature is cold. Look out for any strange noises, odors, or smells. Your owner’s manual will guide recommending a service schedule as well as list signs the AC needs to be repaired and how to maintain it. Many auto repair shops charge no fee or a small fee to check your AC.

2. Check your tires (and your spare!)

Summer heat can be hard on tires. You’ll want to inspect them, whether you have a set of winter car tires and summer tires or all-season tires. You should check for the proper amount of tread as well as air pressure. If you find that your tires are worn down, this is an important sign that they need to be replaced. Proper tire pressure is also important. It can prevent flat tires, and tire blow-outs while on the road and it also improves fuel economy. You can find the proper amount of air pressure for your tires by checking your owner’s manual or the inside of the driver’s side door. The morning time is the best time to check the air pressure because that’s when your tires are cold. While you’re checking your tires, be sure to also check the spare. The location of your spare may be different pending on the car assembly.

3. Check your brakes

Routine checks of your brakes and checking for anything unsound, such as squealing, screeching, or growling, will best prepare you for the summer months. It’s not just muscle car owners that need to pay special attention to brakes. Brake pads, rotors, and drums should be checked for any wear and tear and cracking. This can be done by a mechanic or yourself if you are able to. If something needs to be replaced, make sure to do it. Your summer moments could be a bit of a drag without properly functioning brakes.

4. Check belts and hoses

Heat can be hard on your belts and hoses. Keep in mind that while in car-building, belts and hoses are made of rubber, and the combination of high temperatures could have an effect. So, it’s important to check for any damage or wear, such as cracks or cuts, to your belts and hoses that are located under your hood, if not by you, then a garage professional.

5. Top off fluids

Topping off or maintaining the fluids in our cars is crucial to their peak operation in the summer months. If you know how to perform this maintenance on your own, it may be more convenient and could save some money. Otherwise, it will need to be done by a mechanic. In the summer, early access to fluid maintenance is better than later in the season.

Transmission fluid

Transmission fluid is very important to the life of our cars. It allows your vehicle to shift gears easily without wearing down parts. Check your owner’s manual to see the recommended level your fluid should be at and maintain that level. Generally, it should be a good, bright shade of red.

Power steering fluid

The combination of the hot sun and common showers in the summer can pose a risk to the health of some car parts, especially your wiper blades. If the condition of your blades demands it, or if it’s been one year, you should replace or upgrade your wiper blades. It would be a fine idea to purchase new wiper fluid, if necessary, too.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid transfers the force of your foot on the brake pedal into pressure to the front and rear brakes. Neglect of this fluid can lead to diminished brake performance or outright brake failure. The fluid should be clear and at its proper level as specified by the owner’s manual. If it’s not clear, it will need to be flushed and replaced properly by you or a mechanic.

Or, in the case of oil, change it entirely

Oil, as we know, helps to keep the engine —what some call the heart of the car — running smoothly. It must be checked and changed regularly and cannot be neglected. Although newer models have different standards, the general rule of thumb is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months. This can be done professionally or by yourself. When checking your oil — recommended time is every few weeks — you’ll need to look at the level and the color of the oil. If it’s black or dirty, you should change it as soon as possible. Otherwise, if the motor oil is low and the color of amber, you’ll need to fill it to its recommended level.

6. Check coolant levels

The use of the coolant system, for many people, tends to go up in the summertime. As with other fluids, you’ll need to check to make sure your coolant is at the proper level, and that it is clear. Generally speaking, you should have your coolant flushed every two years, but your owner’s manual will provide more specific guidance.

7. Replace wiper blades

The combination of the hot sun and common showers in the summer can pose a risk to the health of some car parts, especially your wiper blades. If the condition of your blades demands it, or if it’s been one year, you should replace or upgrade your wiper blades. It would be a fine idea to purchase new wiper fluid, if necessary, too.

8. Fix any issues with the exterior

If you need any body work done, loose parts, or other issues to attend to with your car, now is the time to get it fixed. A fully operational and restored car makes for a smooth and ultimate car-owning experience. Not to mention, the pleasant days of summer might make it easier to get alternate transportation while your car is being repaired.

9. Give it a wash…then protect its paint

The winter months can be hard on a vehicle’s clear coat, paint, windows, and undercarriage due to the salt and grime associated with snow on the road. The summer is the best time to do a thorough cleaning, inside and out, and protect its value. Detailing your vehicle at this time of year is a great option, along with waxing it to help protect the factory finish or clear coat on the paint. The nice, sunny weekends can provide the motivation to add to the life of your car’s finish.

10. If you’re going on a trip, pack a seasonally appropriate emergency kit

Since many friends take road trips during the summer and travel by car for planned vacations, it’s important to pack a seasonally appropriate emergency kit. This is no game and is something you can keep in your trunk, and should include a first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, tools, and flares or reflectors for flagging down help. You’ll also need plenty of bottled water and nonperishable food. If you or passengers in your vehicle take medication, don’t forget to include that.

Be sure to prepare in the event you need a towing service. Roadside clubs like AAA provide this service, as well as some vehicle warranties and insurance carriers. Make sure you’re prepared for an event like this before you hit the road.

Get the right insurance coverage

Summertime is one of the busiest times of the year, not only for yourself and your family but also for your car. Make sure you follow these steps to prepare your vehicles for the summer but also ensure you have the insurance coverage that’s right. Check out the new features of Elephant Insurance and get a quote today.

Article last updated on June 25th, 2023 at 6:55 pm

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