6 Important Tips for Summer Vehicle Maintenance
After months of quarantine, Washington state residents are seeing more counties start to reopen. Road trips, vacations, and other outdoor fun are likely on the minds of many. But before you head out the door, you should make certain that your car, truck, or SUV is up to the challenges of warm weather driving.
Safety is important, and preparing your vehicle for summer can help to ensure it stays in top condition throughout the season. And the small effort now—before you take a road trip—can help assure your vacation runs smoothly. Keep these points in mind:
1. Keep your vehicle hydrated.
Overheating is a primary cause of vehicle breakdowns in the summer. Hydration is as important to your vehicle as it is to us.
You can periodically check the levels and condition of the vehicle’s antifreeze/coolant) yourself. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze is usually recommended. It’s relatively cheap, but it can be very expensive later if ignored for too long.
If you’re mechanically inclined, you can do this yourself. But if you’d prefer a professional perform the inspection, bring it into our Service Department at Legend Auto Sales and we’ll take a look.
To prevent long-term damage, our technicians flush and refill your car’s cooling system per the manufacturer’s recommendations and check the condition of clamps, hoses, and drive belts.
2. Check ALL of your filters.
You’ll need to change your oil and oil filter even more frequently in the summer if you’re driving more often or longer distances than normal – and especially if you’re towing a trailer. Check what’s recommended in your car’s owner manual for oil change frequency. We can provide the recommended intervals as well, making certain that the oil change frequency matches the types of driving you’re doing.
Beyond the oil filter, there are several other filters in your vehicle that should be checked before heading out on a road trip. Most people recognize that their air filter needs periodic replacement but many don’t realize there’s another filter that all needs to be changed out. That’s your cabin air filter. It’s what separates you from pollen, dust, and other nasties trying to enter your vehicle. The filter gets clogged over time which makes your air conditioning system have to work much harder. To avoid expensive AC repairs, make sure to check all your filters. If you need assistance with any of them, we’re standing by to replace them for you quickly.
3. Keep your tires properly inflated.
One of the most important aspects of car maintenance is to regularly monitor your vehicle for tire pressure and tire wear. Unfortunately, ignoring tire maintenance can result in a roadside break down or worse. There are environmental reasons to do so as well. A properly-inflated tire reduces your vehicle’s rolling resistance, which means more gasoline is burned. Plus tires prematurely taken off vehicles add to the ever-increasing piles of scrap tires.
Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. This can be found in the owner’s manual or on the placard on the inside of the driver’s door. Use a US Quarter (not a penny) to check the wear bar on the rubber of your tires, too. The tread should come up to at least the top of George Washington’s head.
Modern cars now have an onboard Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), but it doesn’t illuminate until the tire pressure drops significantly. You can be driving with the TPMS light off, and still be driving on air pressure that’s too low. And don’t forget to check that the spare is properly inflated as well. If you have a concern about checking your vehicle’s tire wear or air pressure, please stop by and we’ll show you how.
4. Make sure you can see – and be seen – on the road.
Sprucing up your vehicle for summer goes way beyond looks. Checking and replacing worn parts is an important part of preventive maintenance and will help to assure that you’re seen by other motorists and don’t collect a ticket for a burned-out bulb.
Closely examine your vehicle’s headlights and taillights. Make sure the bulbs are bright and clean and dirt, grime, or bug splashes are cleaned off the lenses. Wiper blades work best when replaced twice a year. A good reminder, like checking your home smoke detectors, is to replace the blades at the spring and fall time change. It’s a relatively straightforward process, but it can be confusing. We’re always available to change out your wiper blades should you need assistance.
5. Invest in your vehicle’s interior.
Wipe down all surfaces and use glass cleaner on the windows for better visibility. You can buy special dashboard cleaners or protectant wipes, but at least use mild soap and water with a soft microfiber cloth. Toothbrushes can come in handy for cleaning out crevices.
If your car has a leather interior, consider prolonging your car’s value by applying a leather conditioner. With the greater sunlight exposure in the summer, the leather dries out and could crack or split over time. It’s pricey to fix, so periodic treatments with the right product is a good investment.
6. Assemble a summer auto emergency kit.
Your best road trip could turn into an epic fail if you’re stranded without the right supplies. Here are some suggestions for items to carry with you in your vehicle.
- Water (in heat resistant/BPA-free containers)
- Nonperishable, non-melting snacks
- Set of tools, or at least a multi-tool, and a quality knife
- First aid kit and vital medications
- Flashlight with fresh batteries, along with extra batteries
- Tire pressure gauge
- Orange warning triangles and flares
- Extra antifreeze/coolant
- Jumper cables
- Map (a paper one in case your phone dies or you don’t have service)
We’ll get you prepared for summer.
Before you head out on that summer excursion, our best advice is for you to make an appointment to bring your car, minivan, truck, or SUV in for a pre-road trip checkup at the Service Department at Legend Auto Sales in Burien, WA. You can call or go online to schedule a service appointment.
Happy summer driving!
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