Get your car ready for summer with these suggestions from AAA.
Check the battery. A battery’s two worst enemies are heat and vibration. Summer is famous for heat and long-distance trips. Long-distance trips are famous for unruly children and vibration. Heat is beyond your control. Making sure your battery is secured in its holder is not. Check your battery cables and terminals. Battery fluid evaporation caused by summer heat leads to corrosion. Clean any corrosion from battery terminals and cable clamps. Make sure the clamps hold firm. If your vehicle battery is more than three years old, get it checked and replaced, if necessary.
Keep the engine cool. Bad things happen when your engine overheats. Make sure the engine’s coolant system is functioning. Check coolant levels. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for recommended maintenance and coolant replacement. If you’re due for a radiator flush, do it before the temperature heats up. If a flush is not necessary, make sure coolant levels are sufficient. If the cooling reservoir is empty, there’s a good chance you’re a little low on coolant. Inspect hoses and belts for cracks and any other sign of wear and tear. Replace if necessary.
Inflate your tires. Driving with underinflated tires makes them more likely to overheat and blow. Inspect your tires regularly and inflate them to the recommended tire pressure. In addition, check tire treads for uneven or excessive wear. It may be an indication of suspension or alignment problems.
Replenish fluids. Fluids lubricate and cool vital engine parts. Check motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid levels periodically. If necessary, replenish them. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for the correct type.
Turn up the air … or not. Having a cool car doesn’t mean a whole lot if the passengers are sweating buckets and suffering from heat stroke. Check the AC unit before it gets too hot outside. Bring it in for charging, an inspection and maintenance, if necessary. When driving in extreme heat, however, turning the AC up too high can cause the car to overheat. Be vigilant.
Prepare. Despite your best efforts, cars break down. Be prepared. Always carry extra water in your vehicle and have a first aid kit accessible. Nonperishable food items, jumper cables, road flares and a flashlight can make a potentially dangerous situation merely an annoyance.