Getting Your Car Ready for the Summer Months

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When the weather starts to get colder, you’ll find no shortage of advice on how to winterize your car. So why is it that there are so few resources when you need to get your car ready for summer? While it’s obvious that winter is definitely a more dangerous time to drive, it doesn’t mean that we should all suddenly forget about some simple car maintenance as the weather gets warmer. If anything, the change of season is a great reminder that it’s time to start performing some basic checks on your vehicle, which will ensure that you’re ready to enjoy the sunshine and get to wherever you’re going, without safety concerns or mechanical setbacks.

Getting Your Car Ready for the Summer Months

The following tips might seem fairly simple, but it’s almost criminal how many people fail to check these simple things in preparation for driving in the hotter months. Following these will ensure that your vehicle is not one of those that is caught out by the warmer weather.

Is Your Air Conditioning Working?

During the winter you’ll be running your heater, but you’ll likely never turn on your air conditioning. Like most mechanical devices, not using a system can hasten deterioration, or at least lead to a minor fault. Your air conditioner will be critical during the summer, particularly if you live in a warmer climate.

Start off by testing your air conditioner while the engine is running, beginning on a mild setting and gradually dialing down the temperature. If you get cold air, then you’re in business.

Check for any odd smells or even lack of air pressure, because you may need to perform some cleaning of the A/C vents within your vehicle. If your air conditioner is not pumping out cold air, then you may be in need of a full diagnostic and possibly a gas recharge. Refrigerant gases can leak over time, or the cold weather may have led to freezing problems and coil damage during the winter. Never try to service an air conditioner beyond basic cleaning of vents and filters, and call a professional if you discover any problems with your system.

Check Your Tires

If you’ve just switched back to standard tires from your winter ones, then make sure you perform a full inspection of your tires. You need to be sure that you have enough tread depth, and you also need to check for flat spots, bubbles on the sidewall, or any other kind of visible damage. High temperatures can cause tire pressure to change, so even a minor problem might be a serious threat when you’re out on the open road.

There’s a simple test to check your tread depth and whether you have enough for safe traction, and you can perform it with a standard United States penny. Simply take the coin and place it into the tread pattern with the head facing down. If the depth of the tread is any less than the top of the head, then it’s time to get new tires. Large manufacturers like Bridgestone recommend this test as a simple way for general road users to check their tread depth and tire safety.

Tread should be uniform across the tire, so don’t ignore it if you have wear inside the camber but not on the outer surface. Uneven wear can mean that your camber is off, wheel alignment is out, or you could have your tires inflated to an incorrect pressure. If your tread is worn or there are any other abnormalities, then it’s time to visit an auto shop or perform your own troubleshooting (if you have the necessary experience).

Check All of Your Fluids

When you’re performing basic checks, it’s a good time to ensure all of your fluids are topped up. Brake fluid can deplete as brakes wear, even while your pads are still good and functional. It’s safe to top up your brake fluid before pads are due for replacement, and this will prevent any air from entering the system. You’ll also need to ensure that your wiper detergent fluid is topped up, particularly if you live in a hot and dry area where there’s likely to be more dust around during the summer.

Overheating can be a major problem in the summer, so you’re also going to need to make sure you have enough antifreeze mix in your radiator. You can sight check your radiator fluid with your car parked on a flat surface. Let the engine cool, and remove the radiator cap with a thick rag. Some cars will have a ‘full’ marker embedded on the radiator metal, but otherwise you need to be able to see the fluid filled to within a centimeter of the opening. If not, then you’ll need to add some 50/50 antifreeze mix. Brands like Prestone, Zerex, and Valvoline, are all good options for quality and affordable fluid.

Get Your Car Looking Great

It’s summer, and you’re likely to be going places where you’ll want your car to look great. There’s nothing better than a well maintained car glistening in the sun, so you’re going to need the right exterior products to ensure your car is ready.

If you’re in a state where UV damage is a serious concern, it’s a good idea to use some synthetic wax on a clean car. Two excellent products are Mothers FX SynWax, and Meguiar’s Synthetic X-Press Spray Wax. Both are high gloss products, and come from trusted names in the automotive detailing industry. Because they provide UV protection, they can help to prevent paint fade, which is something that you’ll be worried about if you live in a warmer climate. The Meguiar’s product is arguably the better of the two, because it’s easier to apply. It’s a spray on product so it’s easy to apply an even coat that can then be buffed out to a high shine.

For interiors, a UV protectant is recommended for high risk areas like the dash and door cards. Meguiar’s is again a manufacturer of a great solution, in the form of their G4116 Natural Shine Protectant.Alternatively, you could go for the equally effective Armor All Ultra Shine Protectant. If your car is often outside in direct sunlight, then you’re going to need to wash and wax at least once a month, or any time that dirt accumulates or when shine is visibly diminished.

Taking some time to check the safety and protect the looks of your vehicle will mean that you get the most out of this summer, while enjoying the car that you love.