The next in our ongoing “Road Safety 101: A Weekly Guide to Staying Safe on the Road” blog series discusses how to prepare your car for summer. Although your vehicle may have gotten you through the cold weather months just fine, failure to get your car ready for travel during the hotter, summer months could put you and your family at risk. Lack of proper maintenance has been known to lead to vehicle breakdowns or, worse yet, be the underlying cause of a serious or fatal car accident.
Fortunately, we have put together a 5-point vehicle inspection list for summer that you can use to prepare your car for all of the summer traveling you intend to do and help keep your family safe:
If you put on winter tires during the cold weather months but have not yet switched to summer tires, now is the time. Even if you didn’t make a tire change, check your tires to make sure each is properly inflated, according to manufacturer specifications. Replace any tires on which the tread has worn down. You should also have the alignment on your vehicle corrected if needed. Tires that are under-inflated, over-inflated, misaligned or worn increase the risk of a dangerous tire blow-out and also affect handling and braking. If tire problems occur while you and your family are taking a summer road trip, you could find yourself stranded or involved in a serious auto accident.
Even if you changed your oil during winter or spring, it is advised you do so again before heading out on any long summer drives. Edmunds recommends vehicle owners refer to their owners’ manuals or use in-vehicle monitors to determine when to replace oil in a vehicle. While this is sound advice, and the newest vehicles no longer need to have oil changed every 3,000 miles, an important step in preparing for summer travel is changing your oil so your engine runs cleaner and cooler in the hotter temperatures. Use the vehicle dipstick to verify oil levels periodically, or have a professional check your oil levels.
Now that you’ve gotten your oil changed, make sure you top off all other fluids as well. Windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, coolant (antifreeze), brake fluid, air conditioning refrigerant and power steering fluid are some of your vehicle’s fluids which it is essential you top off. Failing to do so could cause your car to overheat, you could have problems with your brakes, or cause an expensive or even dangerous breakdown. All of these fluids can be checked and topped off during routine service and maintenance.
When the air conditioning inside your vehicle functions properly, it can allow you to enjoy your summer travels, regardless of how far you have to go or the outside temperatures you may encounter along the way. So, before you make summer travel plans or head out on the road, run your in-vehicle air conditioner to make sure it is consistently blowing cold air. Running your A/C can also help clear out any bad odors or smells. If you suspect your A/C may not be functioning as it did in the past, have the system checked by a qualified auto air-conditioning technician or mechanic. Don’t put family at risk of heat exhaustion or exposure due to lack of a functioning A/C.
Finally, treat your car to a visit to the local car wash. Doing this, or washing and waxing it yourself, is a simple step you can take to remove any dirt and debris which has been allowed to accumulate over the winter. Your vehicle will run much more smoothly and have less chance of rusting or corroding if you remove dirt, dust, salt and other substances which may have gotten caked on your vehicle over the winter. Don’t forget to clean the battery and have the connections checked before you leave.
These simple steps can help you prepare your car for summer, while at the same time reducing your chances of having your vehicle break down, or be involved in an accident. Safe travels!
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