By Kim Bryant
Ah summertime … Swimming, resting, traveling, barbecuing … maintaining your car? Yes, in the midst of summer fun, it is imperative to keep your vehicle well maintained.
Many car owners tend to make the mistake of thinking that car maintenance during the summer is not as important as it is during the winter.
According to Joe Feyen, manager of Midas on 76th and Dodge, summer car maintenance is “not much different than winter car maintenance”.
Some of the following maintenance tips you can perform yourself. Others, however, require the skills of an auto mechanic.
Under the Hood
Have a skilled auto mechanic check your air conditioning system. Why? Because air conditioning systems can fail and no one wants to ride in a mobile oven.
While it is important that you stay cool while driving, it is important that your car stays cool also.
Feyen suggests you make sure your coolants are up to date and that there is a proper mixture (50 percent water, 50 percent coolant mixture aka antifreeze) of coolant in your vehicle’s cooling system. Coolant can be purchased at any auto parts store. Check your coolant periodically, after your vehicle’s engine has completely cooled.
If your engine has not completely cooled, you can risk injuring yourself. The Federal Consumer Information Center Online at www.pueblo.gsa.gov recommends that you have your vehicle’s cooling system flushed and refilled about every 24 months.
The Federal Consumer Information Center Online recommends you change your oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles (or every three months, whichever comes first). If you do a lot of traveling, change it more often.
Check your vehicle’s manual for recommendations on when your brakes should be checked. Have your car’s brakes checked sooner if you notice problems such as longer stopping distances, odd noises or pulsations. Check your brake fluid monthly.
Doityourself.com recommends that you check your battery weekly in hot weather. Check your vehicle’s battery cables to ensure they are securely attached and free of corrosion. If the battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Since batteries can fail during any season, have your vehicle’s battery checked by an auto professional.
Keep your engine tuned as recommended by your vehicle’s manual. Have all fluids (power steering, brake) checked and all filters (oil, air) changed during the tune up. Have problems such as rough idling and stalling checked by your mechanic.
Feyen suggests that you check your tires and keep them rotated. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles.
The FCIC Online recommends that once a month, you check tire pressures (including your spare tire) after all the tires have cooled down. It is important to do this since tire pressures affect your gas mileage. Check tires for tread life and uneven wearing. Check the sidewalls for any cuts or nicks.
Check all lights front and back, replace any burned out bulbs, clean dirt and insects from lights.
The RCIC Online recommends that in order to prevent scratches, you not use a dry rag when cleaning the lenses of your vehicle’s lights.
Replace worn blades every six months to ensure visibility in rainy conditions. In between changings clean the blades with wiper fluid. Be sure to keep the windshield washer reservoir full.
Body and Interior
Wash your vehicle at least once a week to protect if from environmental pollutants. Wax every few washes to protect the paint job. Check the body of the vehicle for rust, scratches or any other damages.
Interior: keep the interior vacuumed, treat any vinyl in your car with a vinyl treatment product to protect it. Keep windows clean, inside and out. If money permits, take your vehicle in for a professional detailed cleaning at the beginning of each season.
With periodic maintenance performed by both you and your auto mechanic, your car will stay in great shape for years to come. To find a skilled auto mechanic near you, check your local Yellow Pages.