Summer is coming. While it’s arguably the most fun season of the year, with barbecues and pool parties aplenty, it is also one of the roughest seasons on your car. With summer temperatures in Amarillo running in the upper 80s to 90s, your car or truck will be subjected to a beating from hood to tires.
Extreme temperatures can fade and crack your paint and dashboard and overheat your battery and tires. And the cooling system gets put on very high demand, so it needs to be in excellent shape. When temps can reach up to 200° inside your vehicle, any malfunction that causes your car to break down can put your health and even your life in jeopardy.
The following simple measures are inexpensive and quick ways to make sure your car is ready to face summer.
Inspect and/or Swap Out Your Tires
Remove winter tires as soon as winter is over. Winter tires are softer and wear out faster in normal – and especially hot – driving conditions, so replace them with summer tires if your performance car requires two different sets of tires throughout the year. If you have all-weather tires, you should be fine.
Whatever kind of tires you have, it is necessary to check if they’re inflated properly. Get out your tire-pressure gauge and see if they are inflated to manufacturer-recommended levels specified in your owner’s manual or on the door jamb. Underinflated tires can cause a blowout, while overinflated tires are at a higher risk for hydroplaning. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency up to 3%. Tip: check your tire pressure when your tires are cool and you haven’t driven yet. Hot weather makes the air inside tires expand.
Don’t forget to check tread depth! The easiest way is to place a penny into several tread grooves across the tire, with Lincoln’s head facing down. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32” of the tread remaining (legally, you need 2/32” or more of tread depth).
Important: Check the pressure of your spare – you never know when you might need it, and there’s no point in having a spare if it’s in unusable condition.
Change Your Oil and Filters
Since summer is road trip season, optimizing fuel economy will help you save money and maintain your engine’s longevity. Heavy driving and extreme temperatures mean you should look at how your oil is doing no matter what.
Oil and filter changes are the most important steps to making your engine last. Oil changes need to occur somewhere between every 3,000 and 7,500 miles, depending on your car’s make, model, and age. Reference your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change schedule.
If you have an older car, you may have to use a thinner oil in the winter (so oil flows more easily when it’s cold) and a thicker one in the summer (since the heat can thin out oil). Newer cars typically run on synthetic oil or oil suited for year-round use.
Get Your A/C in Shape
The worst way to find out your A/C isn’t working is in the middle of traffic on a hot summer day. Prevent this horrific scene by checking if your A/C can generate and maintain temperatures 50° F lower than the outside temperature. If your air conditioning is not working up to par, the most likely cause is low levels of refrigerant, which could be due to a leak.
Since the air conditioning system is highly complex, if you have an air conditioning problem we recommend you take your car to 2nd-to-None Service, where we can diagnose and fix the problem.
Important: Was your car built before 1994? If so, we’ll need to check out your refrigerant and determine how to appropriately dispose of or recycle it. Older cars tend to need a recharge before summer starts.
Check Your Air Filter
Changing your air filter is an inexpensive way to maximize fuel efficiency. Because Albuquerque frequently gets dusty, air filters can get clogged quickly and may need to be changed more than the recommended service schedule of every 12,000 miles.
How do you know if your air filter needs to be replaced? Just take it out for a quick inspection. If it looks grimy then it has to go.
Keep that Battery Fresh
Just like us, batteries have a tendency to overheat in the summer. When temperatures run too hot, chemical reactions speed up, overcharging the battery. This shortens the battery’s lifespan.
Keep your battery running smoothly by detaching the battery cables and wiping off terminals. Secure all connections.