Seasons presents special challenges for drivers and vehicles, alike. Different seasons can tax your engine, electrical system, tires, brakes, and driver, not to mention paint and glass, in different ways. Here are some summer maintenance tips to keep your ride in top shape for whatever conditions you may face, no matter what season.
Hot and Dry Season:
The cooling system is especially critical as ambient temperatures increase, so a full inspection of this system should be performed before the weather starts to heat up. A proper mix of coolant and water, generally 50% coolant and 50% water, increases the boiling point of the mixture, which prevents runaway overheating.
Likewise, the pressure cap further increases the boiling point. Make sure the pressure cap is functional and that there are no coolant leaks from the radiator, hoses, pipes, or engine.
Coolant hoses that are swollen or weakened should be replaced immediately, as high summer pressures can cause them to blow out. Make sure electric fans are functional and that the belts for belt-driven fans are not slipping.
Preparation of hot-weather driving, you should have a few emergency repair items in your trunk to keep your ride in top shape. Carry an extra gallon each of water and coolant, a funnel, and some basic hand tools.
Cool and Wet Season:
To make sure you can see properly in all conditions, make sure your windshield wipers and washer system are operating properly. Wipers should clean the windshield without chattering or streaking, and washers should be strong enough to hit a good portion of the windshield.
Replace the wiper blades should be every six months or so, as exposure to the sun deteriorates the rubber. Use a quality washer fluid, having a small amount of soap or alcohol, that helps to dissolve insect parts and break up road grime.
Tires in Every Season:
Perhaps the most important consideration, when it comes to your vehicle and the wet season, is the condition of your tires. On dry pavement, balding tires, those with less than 2-mm tread depth remaining, still provide halfway decent traction.
In the rain and mud, however, those same tires can’t maintain traction. You see, the purpose of the tread is to maintain contact with a good surface. Water and mud squish between the treads, but if there isn’t sufficient tread depth, the tire ends up floating over the top.
At low speeds, you may spin tires and not be able to steer reliably. Hitting a puddle or wet stretch of road at high speed may cause your tires to lose contact with the road altogether, also called hydroplaning, and you can lose control of your vehicle. Make sure, before the wet season arrives, that your tires have at least 3 mm tread depth to improve wet traction.
If you regularly drive in muddy conditions, make sure you have at least 6 mm tread depth remaining. These summer maintenance tips will help you to keep your car in top shape.
Always carry a basic tire patch kit and portable air compressor in your emergency trunk kit, as well as make sure your spare tire and tire-changing tools are in good condition.