Khodrocar - There are a bazillion posts about preparing your car for winter’s wrath, but no one seems to pay as much attention to any of the necessary prep needed in order to keep a car running properly when it gets hot. So in order to make sure we didn’t miss anything, we turned to the product training director at CARiD.com, Richard Reina, an expert on automotive maintenance and all-around badass under the hood.
One of the things that we discussed was that while preparing your car for summer in the spring months and doing the same for winter while it’s fall is crucial, often people will "over maintain” their automobiles. Dealers and shady mechanics can be notorious for convincing drivers that their cars need a particular service when in truth the owner’s manual says a car isn’t due for said service for a long while.
"Most drivers just don’t know better,” Reina explains. "And [since] a lot of them don’t know how to even pop the hood of their own car, they should just pull out their owner’s manual and show what is required.”
But for those of you who do your own maintenance, or have a trusted shop to turn to, there are a few "unscheduled hot weather upgrades” your car could really benefit from. It’s going to get hotter than a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in no time, and we don’t want you stranded on the side of the road somewhere.
*This doesn’t typically pertain to newer vehicles, since they generally run quite well year-round on a synthetic oil with a particular viscosity weight and shouldn’t need oil changes until every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. But as a vehicle racks up miles, the seals on its engine begin to wear, and switching over to a heavier oil with different detergents could be a helpful upgrade in summer months. Do your research before changing up your oil preferences, and look online to see who has had success in the past with running a heavier/thicker oil in your car in the summer, as some cars do better with this method than others.
*This is an area where service shops rip people off all the time, saying that they need a full flush and leak-down test in order to make sure an AC unit is working properly. If your car is on the older side and nothing cold is blowing out of the vents, chances are you either need a fresh charge of freon, or your heater control switch is stuck in the "ON” position. A full AC system evacuation and recharge should be the last thing on your to-do list, so if tossing in a can or two of refrigerant from an auto store every spring solves the issue for an entire year, go ahead and do it.
*Everyone thinks about their batteries dying in winter, but what no one ever considers is how much strain is placed on our charging systems in summer. Running an AC system, the constant kicking-on of cooling fans, and the incessant pull placed on your alternator from blaring music with the windows down can be really hard on a car’s battery over time. Even if your old battery is still working fine, it’s better to have the local auto parts store drop a fresh one in free of charge instead of running the risk of being stuck in a 100-degree parking lot in August.
*Mechanics make a killing convincing people that they need a radiator flush every summer, when all they really need is a top-off with fresh fluid. This stuff is referred to as both antifreeze and coolant for a reason, as it keeps your engine from freezing to death in winter and overheating in summer. Checking your coolant overflow container levels when the engine is cold should give you an accurate reading, and never, under any circumstance, should you open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
*This final tip is a free and easy way to help guarantee that nothing goes horribly awry when you’re out on the open road this summer. Checking fluid levels, battery terminal connections, belts, hoses, wipers, brakes, tires, and lighting will not only give you piece of mind when it’s time to drive, but it will also warn you of any forthcoming issues your car might be facing.