by Mary Wimmer
The dog days of summer are here and in Ontario that means it’s peak road-trip season. Before your next weekend getaway, make sure that your car is in tip-top shape for the journey.
While the summer heat may not be as hard on cars as our frigid winter temperatures, the scorching sun and added clicks can still take a toll on your vehicle. Here are six essential summer car care tips to make sure that your car stays in it for the long haul.
Remember to inflate, rotate and evaluate. Inflating is the most important aspect because under-inflation can lead to tire failure. Also ensure that your tires are rotated at regular intervals (every six months or 10,000 to 12,000 km) to prevent irregular and premature wear. Finally, look for signs of tread wear or damage before heading out – and purchase new tires if need be.
Examine the radiator hose and belts. Failure of either of these could cause your engine to overheat, or result in losing your power steering and electrical charging system. If a hose leaks coolant or the belt turning the water pump snaps, the cooling system will quit. Worse still, overheating the engine can seriously damage it and result in costly repair bills. While overheating can occur at any time, it usually happens in the summer because temperatures underneath the hood can soar, causing some rubber compounds to melt.
Make sure that your car is well-hydrated. Check your oil and change it, if needed. Keep your gas tank in good shape so that you’re not driving in a rush to top up before your big trip. Also remember to always check the windshield wiper, coolant, brake and clutch fluids.
Extreme heat can be just as bad as winter weather for your battery. Heat and vibration are two of the biggest problems, which can lead to internal breakdown and eventual failure. While you may not be able to do much about the heat, you can make sure your battery is clean and securely mounted to minimize vibration. And if your battery is more than three years old, it’s time to get it tested and make sure that it is still in good working condition.
Your owner’s manual shouldn’t be collecting dust in the glove compartment. It’s important to familiarize yourself with all aspects of your car, including mechanical and maintenance information. After all, a car is one of the biggest investments consumers make; it’s worth taking the time to get to know yours well.
Whether it’s a flickering “check engine” light or a slight knocking sound under the hood, if your car has a quirk be sure to get it checked out by a trained technician before you’re headed on a long trip. Don’t procrastinate: your car may be running just fine, but the last place you want to be when something goes wrong is on the road.
And remember, before heading out on the road make sure to download the CAA Mobile App to your smartphone for easy access to CAA’s peerless Roadside Assistance program. In the event of a roadside emergency, the app enables CAA Members to call for assistance and transfers their GPS coordinates directly to CAA.
You can also use the app to access other CAA Member benefits like TripTiks and Rewards partners, as well as to get travel information and search for nearby hotel accommodations and restaurants.