Summer Fun without Breakdowns

June 21, 2016

Summer Fun without Breakdowns

The first day of summer is Monday, June 20, and not far behind is the first big holiday here in the U.S. – the Fourth of July.

Summer’s heat and dust and congested traffic will surely be upon us as many take advantage of the long holiday weekend, or even make it a week-long vacation.

Summer takes a toll on our vehicles. Add the effects of last winter, and we could be poised for a breakdown. Periodic maintenance makes a difference between a breakdown and holiday fun.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers a number of tips. Here are a few.

Air Conditioning
A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner’s manual for location and replacement interval

Cooling System
The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) Do-it-yourselfers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled!

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual or more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.

Engine Performance
Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended or more often in dusty conditions.

Windshield Wipers
A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Check tire pressures (while tires are cold) before driving for any distance. Don’t forget to check your spare as well. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there’s uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.

Carry some basic tools such as jumper cables, flares or triangle reflectors, a quart or more of motor oil, gallon of coolant, first-aid kit, blanket or space blanket, flashlight and extra batteries, and a tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, pocket knife.

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