Preparing your car for Texas summers isn’t expensive or complicated. Auto maintenance isn’t a part-time thing either because it helps reduce your chances of running into heat-related car trouble, let’s look at a few things you can do to to keep your vehicle running in top shape this summer.
AVOID SUN DAMAGE
Simple things like parking in a garage, using a sun shield, or protecting your investment with a car cover can help you minimize the effects of summer sun. Remember, heat and UV light also will damage your interior, so use a vinyl protectant on the interior and a conditioner on the seats if they’re leather. Always try to keep your vehicle washed and waxed because dirt acts like an insulator and holds heat, besides who doesn’t enjoy driving a clean, shiny car?
CHECK THE COOLING SYSTEM
Check your coolant level regularly to help you avoid overheating. Be sure to wait until the engine has cooled off before checking the level. If it needs topping off, most cars require a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. Have the cooling system checked if you find yourself topping off more frequently or if you have a radiator leak. Be sure to clean up any spilled coolant because it’s toxic to pets and people.
A repair shop will pressure test the system and check your hoses for wear and damage. While they’re at it, have them check your thermostat and water pump. Look at your owner’s manual, if your mileage matches the manufacturer’s replacement schedule, replace the pump now. This way, you’ll avoid getting stuck on the side of the road when the water pump goes out.
REPLACE THE AIR FILTER
Open your hood and inspect the engine air filter. If it’s dirty or, if it’s reached it’s recommended replacement time, simply go ahead and drop in a new one. Driving with a dirty air filter costs you money because it reduces your gas mileage and robs performance.
INSPECT THE CAR BATTERY
Summer heat more than winter cold damages batteries. A battery that fails in the winter probably was damaged in the summer. It just took the stress of freezing temperatures to seal it’s fate. The two main things that damage batteries are heat and overcharging. Either one will make you have to learn how to jump a car battery if it dies.
You should take your car to technician if you have issues like dimming headlights, weak stereo performance, or a warning light such as a check engine light or battery light.
To extend the life of your battery, do the following:
- Inspect the battery cable and terminals for wear, dirt and corrosion.
- If your battery isn’t a sealed unit, keep it topped off with distilled water if it needs filling.
- Check the electrical system to make sure it’s not overcharging your battery.
- If you need a new battery, get a replacement that’s rated at or higher than the old one.
MAINTAIN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING
Today’s vehicles have reliable air conditioning systems but that doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance. Nobody likes the thought of driving without AC or needing an auto AC repair service. Have your mechanic inspect the system at least once a year to avoid future problems.
CHANGE YOUR OIL
Change your oil and change it regularly since summer heat puts additional stress on the engine. Again, the owner’s manual has all of your maintenance information. Most newer vehicles use year-round oil, however some older vehicles require different oils in the summer and winter. If you’re not sure or if you’re a teen driver, just fire up your search engine to find an “oil change near me” and ask their technician for advice.
REPLACE YOUR WIPERS
Wiper blades wear out even if you don’t use them. Heat and oxidation will make them tear and crack. It’s best to change your windshield wipers twice a year to maintain good visibility.
USE THE RIGHT TIRES
Be sure you have the right tires for the right season. Most new vehicles sold in Texas come from the factory with all-season tires or summer performance tires, however, if you’ve recently moved to here from up north, check to see if you’re still driving with winter tires.
The soft rubber compound in winter tires don’t perform well in summer heat and will wear out fast. If you need new tires, consider choosing a Goodyear tire dealer in Sugar Land because they can give you expert advice and make recommendations based on your vehicle and style of driving.
Finally, always keep your tires properly inflated because it has a direct impact on your fuel economy.
READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL
We can almost guarantee you that no one’s summer reading list includes an owner’s manual, however they contain critical information about your car. Always keep one in your glove box. If your owner’s manual is missing, click here to find and download a replacement to your smart phone or computer. Another source to consider is Helm, or if you’re handy with tools, consider getting a Haynes Manual.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Summer means you’re probably doing a lot of driving, so don’t forget to keep up with regular maintenance to avoid car trouble and to protect against unnecessary wear and tear from the heat. You always should be checking and following your auto manufacturer’s recommended schedule, otherwise it could cost you more money and inconvenience in the long run.
If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining or repairing your your vehicle, always consult a mechanic you can trust, like First Tire & Automotive. Just call or stop by one of our three convenient Fort Bend County locations today. We’ll be happy to answer questions, go over estimates, and a recommended plan of action with you.
Photo credit: BruceTurner / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)