Don't get stuck on the side of the road during your summer vacation.
Take action now to keep your car running through the heat of summer by following these preventive measures from Rob Brown, Monroe Community College automotive associate professor and operations committee chair for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Brown oversees MCC’s Toyota/Lexus T-TEN training program.
· Check all fluids and replace as needed – engine oil, coolant, brakes, power steering, etc. Just as the human body needs extra water during hot temperatures, vehicles need their fluids.
· Pay close attention to the vehicle’s engine oil. Heat causes oil to break down, accelerating mechanical wear of critical moving parts within the engine. Switch to a synthetic oil or at the least make sure your technician uses a quality premium oil.
· If you plan to tow a boat or trailer, be sure to check the owner’s manual for the proper weight engine oil to use under severe driving conditions and have the automatic transmission serviced more often because heat builds up quicker in the transmission. Also, consider adding an automatic transmission auxiliary cooler.
· Clean the engine compartment. To help the engine run longer and cooler, buy a cleaner at the local auto store and follow the label’s directions.
· Flush and refill the coolant system if it hasn’t been done recently to help prevent your car from overheating. This service should include replacement of the radiator pressure cap. Also, take a garden hose at regular pressure and wash off the radiator and condenser fins to remove build-up of dirt and debris.
· Inspect the battery and cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt as hot weather can shorten its life. If it’s a low-maintenance battery (to determine whether yours is low or no maintenance, check label on top of battery) and fluid level is low, add distilled water.
· Running the air conditioner in a lot of stop-and-go traffic can stress vehicles. Request your auto technician to make an air conditioning system performance check and adjust as required.
· Change your vehicle’s filters for oil and air, including a cabin air filter that is installed in many new vehicles to remove pollen and such from air before it enters the passenger compartment. A dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
· Inspect belts and hoses for cracking and have them replaced if necessary.
· Inspect the brake pads and linings for wear. Though it’s not necessary to change your driving pattern due to high temperatures and humidity, as you would in snow and ice, you won’t want to get stuck outside in the heat.
· Check the air pressure in all tires, including the spare, to make sure they are properly inflated to the manufacturer’s specification. Look at the depth of the tread all around the tire – even on the inside facing car – to be sure the tires are wearing evenly. Get tires balanced and aligned as necessary.
· Clean the lenses of exterior lights to get maximum visibility and be sure they work. Also check interior lights to make sure they function properly.
· Replace worn wiper blades.
· Wash and wax the exterior, and vacuum the interior, use a quality protectant on the plastic and vinyl surfaces and a leather conditioner where applicable to protect surface finish from sun and heat.
Kristy Mooney Graves
Applied Technologies Center