Summer driving may seem like ideal road conditions and easy riding, but if your car is not properly maintained you could be in for a long hot wait on the side of the road instead of a cool refreshing swim at the beach. One of the most important parts of a vehicle, and one of the most overlooked, are the tires. Having the proper tire pressure and tread depth will ensure a safe ride on summer roadways.
The first step to summer tire maintenance is to remove the snow tires. These tires are heavier and can reduce your fuel economy. Make sure the tires on your vehicle have the proper air pressure. This can be found on the side wall of the tire or in your car manufacturer’s handbook. Under inflated tires bulge and put unnecessary pressure on the sidewall of the tire which can cause a blowout. Over inflated tires don’t make good contact with the road which can result in sliding or hydroplaning in rainy weather.
Make sure the tires also have
proper tread depth. This can be checked at your local shop or by using the old penny trick. Stick a penny in the tread and as long as Abe’s head disappears, you’re good. The final tire tip is making sure your spare tire is in good condition. It won’t do you much good if the spare is worse than the tire you are trying to replace with it.
Before taking any long trips you should always check your oil level. If you are in need of an oil change get it done before your summer travels. While you’re already checking oil levels you might as well continue on to all other fluid levels as well. Check coolant, differential, power steering, transmission, washer and brake fluids to make sure they are at the proper level.
Having your fuel filter looked at or replaced is another great tip. Check all the hoses and belts to make sure none need replacing. The hoses connected to the radiator pump coolant to and from the engine block and the belts run the fan that helps cool things down more. The coolant system is extremely important to your engine on hot summer days.
More tips to de-winterize your vehicle are to give it a good wash. If you live in an area where it snows, salt from road maintenance can cake up on the undercarriage of your vehicle causing erosion and trapping heat. Replacing the air filter after a long hard winter is a good idea. Clogged air filters can reduce fuel efficiency, and with gas prices already high, no one wants lower gas mileage.
You should also look into replacing your windshield wipers. Ice and snow can cause small tears in the rubber of the wiper causing them to streak when you are trying to wipe away the summer rain. Summer can take a toll on your battery. The heat can actually speed up the chemical reaction in your battery causing it to become overcharged. The heat can also evaporate the battery fluid, so making sure the battery is in top condition before any road trips is a top priority.
Two of the more obvious parts of your vehicle to have serviced before long trips are your brakes and air conditioner. The brakes are one of the main safety features on a vehicle. Replace any worn out brake pads before long distance travel to ensure you stop when you want to. The air conditioner can make a world of difference on any trip, especially if there is a chance of getting stuck in traffic. Have a professional look over your system to make sure it is running efficiently.
Last, but not least, make sure to have a roadside kit in the trunk. Have jumper cables, a tire iron, jack, flares, and a flashlight packed just in case. You should also keep a can of “Fix-A-Flat”, some a water, blankets and non-perishable food in your kit. If you follow these tips to maintaining your vehicle you are sure to have a safe and happy summer on the open road.