A few inexpensive checks can ensure your car is ready for higher temps
Even if you don’t experience snow and ice in the winter, the late spring and early summer months are a good time to prepare your car for the summer heat with these car care tips. Because it just takes a quick checkup to prepare your vehicle for the heat of summer. Maintenance is typically inexpensive and will help you as the mercury starts to rise.
Tire condition is important, but the air pressure inside your tires is just as critical. A tire pressure gauge is a cheap investment, but if you don’t have one, most car mechanics are usually willing to check your pressure. Don’t check the sidewall for the correct air pressure. Look inside the driver’s door for a sticker that will indicate how much air pressure you should be running, depending on the load and number of passengers. Keep in mind that tire pressure rises about 1 psi per 10 degrees of temperature increase.
Make it a habit to examine your tires regularly. Look for uneven tire wear across the tread, and take a good look at the sidewalls for damage. You should also look for a minimum tread depth of 2/32 of an inch to operate safely. Anything less than that indicates that you need to replace your tires.
Belt and hoses
You can avoid a lot of summer breakdowns by keeping an eye on your belt and hoses and replacing them ahead of a long trip. Large coolant hoses run from the radiator to a water neck in the engine block and from the bottom of the water pump back to the radiator. There are also two smaller coolant hoses that run to the heater core, which provides the heat inside your vehicle. Any signs of abrasion or leaking need to be addressed. If the hoses feel dry or squashy, it’s definitely time to replace them.
Years ago, vehicles had a number of belts that ran accessories such as the water pump, the alternator and the power steering pump. Modern cars have a single belt that runs everything. You definitely don’t want a serpentine belt to fail because it will overheat the engine in short order.
Serpentine belts use an idler pulley for tension. These use a spring to keep the belt tight. These pulleys should be replaced at the same time as the belt, because the bearings inside them are prone to failure after 75,000 miles.
Check all fluids, including engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, power steering fluid, engine coolant, brake fluid and clutch hydraulic fluid. All fluids should be changed at proper intervals, according to the recommendation in the owner’s manual. A typical maintenance recommendation includes checking:
- Engine oil every 5,000 miles
- Automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 miles, with a complete transmission flush rotated in every other service
- Manual transmission fluid every 100,000 miles or clutch replacement
- Engine coolant annually
- Rear differential fluid every 30,000 miles
- Brake fluid and power steering fluid every 100,000 miles or when fluid becomes excessively darkened
Battery and cables
Most drivers think about battery failures in the winter, but they’re just as likely to fail in the summer. Battery failures are tough to predict, as batteries typically work until they suddenly won’t. If your battery has been in the car for a few years, it’s a good idea to visit a service center or auto store to have the battery tested. A load tester simulates a start cycle and can help determine the health of your battery before it fails.
A lot of drivers end up replacing starters when their car won’t start and the battery has been replaced, but a no-start condition can often be traced to a bad battery cable. Even if the cables look good, the inside of the cable can be corroded, providing enough resistance that the battery either can’t charge or can’t send enough power to the starter. A mechanic or even a parts store can perform a voltage drop test on your battery cables to determine if that’s the problem.
The snow, salt and grit of a tough winter can tear wiper blades apart, leaving you unable to see when you really need to. For less than $20, you can have crystal-clear vision with a new set of wiper blade refills. Ask your car mechanic for help with sizing the correct wiper blade inserts and installing them.
Thorough Wash, Wax & Interior Steam Cleaning
You may have built up a nice collection of crud and crumbs inside and outside your vehicle. On the outside your paint job has probably collected lots a visible and invisible grime which, besides dulling the paint’s look, also has the potential to permanently damage your finish. This is why Sunset North Car Wash usually recommend the Exterior Protect Service which includes “clay bar” treatment for deeply embedded paint contanimation before polishing and waxing.
On the inside, besides making the interior feel and smell fresher, our Germ Buster Steam Cleaning equipment provides a level of sanitation unmatched by simple hand wipes.