Summertime in the Rockies is the best time of the year. Whether you choose to head up to the mountains to cool down, or drive to a ballgame to sit back and relax, Denver has you covered. There’s so much to do here!
But getting anywhere can be a challenge if you don’t have a reliable car.
Long summers can bring on unpredictable weather. And the summers seem to be getting longer – 89 degrees in April is record-breaking.
What is that doing to your vehicle? As the temperatures continue to rise, follow these summer car maintenance tips to ensure your vehicle is ready for all the action in the coming weeks and months.
What are the most common summer car problems?
Most summertime car problems are predictable. You only have to look at the cars stranded by the side of the road. They include:
- An overheated engine – when the car is pulled over and the hood is up with smoke billowing out, you know the engine is in trouble.
- Air conditioner problems – your vehicle needs to be in top condition to ensure cool air on the hottest days of the year.
- Worn out wiper blades – dust and debris mixed with rain can create a disaster for your windshield. After a bitterly cold winter, old wiper blades can be cracked and worn.
- Tire problems – low tire pressure can lead to a variety of system problems. If your tires aren’t in good shape, the blazing heat can cause a tire blowout.
- Water pump issues – if the water no longer circulates coolant to the engine, it can overheat and stall the engine.
- Fuel leaks – this can impact your fuel economy and efficiency.
- Weak battery – batteries can drain from working overtime, keeping your car on the road.
What maintenance items should you focus on before the summer heat sets in?
Having a basic understanding of how your car operates can help you schedule maintenance visits to ensure everything is running well.
When was the last time you had an oil change? It’s one of the most common maintenance items drivers do to ensure their cars run well. Most manufacturers today recommend every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, but mileage plays a big part of it too. If you work from home and don’t drive as much as you used to, your vehicle may sit there for weeks – months – before it gets close to the limits. It’s still a good idea to circulate fresh oil through your car before the heat of the summer sets in.
While the air conditioning system might not seem important on a 60 degree day, you’ll be thankful you checked it early as record-heat sets in. As you drive, turn the air conditioner to test the temperature. Do you feel cold air? Does your car cool down quickly? If you notice any trouble with the cooling system, the fix may be as simple as adding refrigerant to give the AC system a boost. If that doesn’t do the trick, further diagnosis will help pinpoint the issue.
Most vehicles today come with warning systems that illuminate a dashboard light if your tire pressure is outside acceptable limits. It’s still important to check the condition of your tires, and ensure pressure is acceptable, especially before you hit the open road for a family vacation.
There are other ways to ensure your tires are in good operating condition. A visual check can alert you to other problems, such as worn spots on the tread. Uneven patterns could alert you to under or overinflated tires, with the rubber no longer fully connecting with the road. Bring your vehicle in for tire rotation and balancing to ensure a long life.
Your vehicle contains various fluids that keep parts lubricated and working well. Gas and motor oil are at the top of everyone’s list. But drivers often forget to check other crucial fluids, and that can leave you stranded with a car that isn’t working well. Coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid are equally important for a well-working car. If you aren’t comfortable checking fluid levels, trusting one of our mechanics is a great option. We’re here to ensure your car is in top operating condition for everything you do this summer.
What do your summer activities include? Will you be pulling a camper into the mountains? Hauling a boat out for a weekend? Will you be climbing the mountain every weekend looking for adventure? Heat, altitude, and pulling heavy loads can all wear on your car’s braking system. And if they are already compromised from harsh winter roads, it can put you in a precarious situation.
A red flag is if you already notice braking signals, such as a loud squeal when you tap on the brake pedal. Other warning signs can be more subtle, such as a slight vibration in the steering wheel. If your drive has changed in any way, it’s better to bring your car in for an inspection than wait for a problem to arise.
Clean your car
A simple car maintenance tip is to handwash your vehicle from time to time. This lets you get close and personal to every side of your vehicle, which can alert you to bigger problems. Pay attention to tire tread, leaks in the wheel well, or funny smells coming from underneath the hood. A clean car not only looks better, but it ensures your vehicle stays in good operating condition.
Keep your engine cool
Fluid changes and basic maintenance are all great ways to ensure your vehicle stays operational all summer. Yet it still doesn’t take the place of paying attention to how your vehicle acts as you drive. As you head into the mountains, or drive cross country facing record-breaking heat, keep an eye on your dashboard and pay attention to gauges as they change. Don’t try and push your car to the next exit. Or wait for a more convenient time. You risk the engine overheating, and if you don’t give it a break, your repair bills may soar.
The best way to keep your vehicle working at its best is with a full inspection periodically to ensure it’s working well.
When was the last time you brought your car in for standard maintenance? Before summer sets in, schedule your visit today.