Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic will take their
toll on your vehicle. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through
periodic maintenance. As a result, your vehicle should last longer and command
a higher resale price, too!
Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a
skilled auto technician.
Getting Started--The best planning guide is your owner's manual. Read it; and
follow the manufacturer's recommended service schedules.
- Air Conditioning--A Marginally operating system will fail in hot weather.
Have the system examined by a qualified technician.
- Cooling System--The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating.
The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24
months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked
periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.)
Do it Yourselfers, Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly
cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should
be checked by a pro.
- OIL--Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual--more often
(every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with
lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
- Engine Performance--Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended--more
often in dusty conditions. Get engine driveability problems (hard starts,
rough idling, smiling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
- Windshield Wipers--A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a
safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
- Tires--Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures
once a month; let the tires "cool down" first.Don't forget your spare, and
be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven
wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment
is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one
- Brakes--Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner
if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor
brake problems should be corrected promptly.
- Battery--Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to
detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape
away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten
all connections. If battery. caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly.
Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection
and rubber gloves.
- Lights--Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically
clean dirt and insects from all lenses.
- Emergencies--Carry some basic tools--ask a technician for suggestions.
Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a