Even if you’re not going far, it’s a good idea to make sure your car is ready to face the punishment the Texas sun can dish out. Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep your car and family safe and get the most for your gas dollar.
- Check your tires. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure (which you can find in your car’s owner’s manual or printed on the inside of your driver’s side door.) Inflate your spare to the correct pressure, and check to see that your jack is in its proper location. If you are going on a trip and carrying lots of luggage or equipment, use the “heavy load” pressure listed in the manual. Be sure to check the tread wear on your tires, as well; excessive wear can cause a blowout, which could mean big trouble on a summer road trip. Replacing worn down tires before you leave on a trip will save you time and money, as well as the hassle of having to take your car to a mechanic in an unfamiliar location.
- Keep your cool. Checking your cooling system is a must before heat pushes it to its limit. If your radiator core is leaking or plugged, your engine won’t be cooled properly, and your engine will be in danger of failing–not what you want to happen on a busy highway miles from home. Check, or have your mechanic check, all of the belts and hoses in your cooling system for leaks or cracks. If your timing belt needs to be replaced, replace your water pump at the same time. A radiator flush will help clear any debris from your cooling system before it plugs your radiator core, and will make it possible for you to fill the system with new coolant to protect your radiator in the heat.
- Oil it up. Hot temperatures can easily overheat your engine, so make sure your car is getting oil changes at the interval recommended by its manufacturer. If you’ll be pulling a trailer or carrying heavy luggage or equipment, check your car’s owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer recommends a higher viscosity oil for “severe duty.” And before leaving on a long road trip, check your oil. If the oil looks dark or gritty, get your oil and oil filter changed immediately.
- Checkup time. You should have your car checked over by a reputable mechanic. The mechanic should check your air conditioning system, your fluid levels, your battery, your hoses, belts and filters, and your cooling system to make sure your car is ready for the rigors of summer driving. A good mechanic will catch things you might not have thought of; for instance, you should replace your windshield wipers if they are cracked or worn.
- Get it clean. Your car can really benefit from a careful cleaning both inside and on the exterior, especially if you are going on a long trip. Remove any unnecessary items from your car to help you save on gas costs. A thorough car wash and detailing is a great idea before a trip; a fresh coat of wax will help protect your car from environmental hazards like bugs, acid rain, and tree sap, as well as making it less likely that your car’s paint will be scratched by small road debris like gravel. Detailing the interior of the car will make your trip more comfortable; you and your family can ride in a cleaner, fresher-smelling car wherever the road takes you.