Now that summer is here, you might think that you no longer have to worry so much about weather proofing your car. And while it’s true that warmer weather is generally easier on your motor vehicle, you’ll still want to take certain precautions to keep your car in tip-top shape – otherwise, you could end up with peeling paint or a blown radiator. There are really three big dangers to your car during the summer: heat, sunlight, and humidity. The following steps will help keep your car protected against these elements.
Problem: overheating. Solution: radiator checkup
One of the biggest causes of breakdowns during the summer is overheating engines. The risk of overheating is worse if your car is older and if you live in an area with high temperatures. The intense summer heat can put a lot of strain on your cooling system. Give your radiator a check-up, making sure that there are no damages to the radiator or hoses. It’s important for your radiator to receive good air flow, so clean up any dirt or debris that may be blocking it, and make sure the cap isn’t damaged.
Problem: overheating. Solution: refill coolant
After checking up on your radiator’s condition, make sure that you’re using the proper amount of coolant. Radiator coolant should be flushed and changed every two years. Ensure that you keep a 50/50 mix between distilled water and coolant.
Problem: battery damage. Solution: refill fluids
Battery fluid can evaporate in the summer heat and internal parts can be damaged. Check that the water level in each of the battery’s cells comes up to just below the cell’s inspection hole. If levels are low, carefully add more distilled water. Clean off the battery, as dirt can be a conductor and drain power. Pay attention to the terminals, as dirt or corrosion can weaken the power feeding into your car.
Problem: tire pressure. Solution: tire inspection
Changes in temperature can cause changes in your tire’s internal pressure, exacerbating any existing damage. If you still have winter tires on, make sure to switch over to summer or all-season tires. Inspect your tires for cracks and make sure the tread isn’t worn away. Hot summer asphalt can worsen tire cracks.
Problem: You’re melting in your car. Solution: A/C checkup
If your air conditioner seems weak, clean and inspect your condenser. If dirt or bugs are preventing air flow, that could be the cause. Check the belt inside the compressor. If your air conditioning is still weak, you may be low on Freon and will need to refill. It’s often a good idea to have a mechanic do this, as levels must be precise.
Problem: Paint is fading and/or peeling. Solution: wash and wax
The harsh summer sun can cause your paint to fade or peel. Paint damage is more than cosmetic. Since paint acts as a protective layer shielding the aluminum body from the elements, losing it will cause problems down the road. Help protect your paint by first giving it a good wash to get rid of dirt and grime, then finish it off with a thorough wax job.
Problem: overheating engine. Solution: oil change
Your car’s oil keeps the engine lubricated and running smoothly, and if your engine isn’t running smoothly, it’s at greater risk of overheating. So finish off your summer checkup with an oil change. You should change your oil at least every 3,000 miles, and more frequently than that if you do a lot of strenuous driving.
Problem: Your car sits in the sun all day. Solution: Keep it covered!
You can clean and wax your car all day long, but you still shouldn’t let it sit in the sun for inordinate lengths of time. If you can, keep your car in an indoor garage or under a roofed carport. When parking out in the sun, protect the inside of your car with sunshades. If you’re leaving your car out in the sun for months on end, consider renting an indoor car storage unit to keep it in. Alternatively, buy a tarp to cover your car.