Even if you don't have a long trip in the car planned, the higher temperatures of the Texas summer take a serious toll on vehicles.
It's a good idea to run the checks listed below, just be sure your car is better prepared to survive another June, July, and August in the Lone Star state.
Getting today's cars ready for summer is more about checking out systems than replacing parts.
Years ago, getting a car read for summer mean replacing parts, but today's vehicles are built of more durable stuff. Modern parts are made to last longer — sometimes going as much as 100,000 between replacements. The process of getting today's cars ready for summer is more about checking out various systems than replacing parts.
And if you don't feel up to the job of checking these things yourself, get a trusted mechanic to make the checks. It's better to be over-cautious now than regretful later.
CHECK THE COOLING SYSTEM AND AIR CONDITIONING
An overheating engine is still the Number 1 cause of vehicle breakdown. With a few simple checks you can make sure this doesn't happen to you.
- Clean out any leaves, dead bugs, and other debris from the grill and radiator.
Poor air flow around the radiator prevents it from cooling the engine efficiently.
- Check the radiator cap.
Because of the high temperatures, the rubber gasket can become damaged, cracked, or hardened, causing a faulty seal and letting boiling coolant spew out onto the engine.
- Check the coolant hoses for leaks, cracks, or loose connections.
Replace any hoses that look questionable. It'll be easier to do now than when you're broken down on the side of the road.
- Check the coolant level,
and add coolant if any is needed (VIDEO LINK).
- Train yourself to monitor the engine temperature regularly.
Even with all the proper checks on a coolant system, an engine can still overheat. By keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, you can spot and deal with any abnormal increases in engine temperature before it damages your engine and leaves you stranded.
Make the temperature indicator just one more thing your eyes look at regularly while driving, like the rearview and side mirrors, the speedometer , and the traffic around you. This is especially true if you drive an older vehicle.
Now our readers are smart people, so we probably don't need to tell you this, but here we go anyway: never remove the radiator cap if the engine is hot or even warm. The coolant inside the radiator can be boiling hot and under pressure. Removing the radiator cap under those conditions is just asking to get a faceful of boiling liquid.
PREPARE FOR THE SPECIAL DEMANDS OF SUMMER DRIVING
Winter driving brings with it the special conditions of ice and snow. Summer driving has its own special conditions. In the summer time, we ask our vehicles to do things they don't normally do, and these have to be taken into consideration when you prepare your car for summer driving.
Towing a boat, a trailer, or a camper is part of summer driving for a lot of us.
- Check out what you'll be towing.
Make sure the lights, the tires, and everything else is road ready. And take these checks as seriously as you would for the vehicle you'll be driving.
- Follow safety guidelines for the maximum towing weight.
Your vehicle's engine has just so much power, so it can only tow so much extra weight. If you have to tow something that weighs too much for your vehicle, borrow or rent another vehicle that can handle the weight.
- Load up carefully with consideration for weight distribution.
Balance the vehicle's weight between the axles and the towing hitch. Balance the weight on the trailer, too, to avoid putting excessive pressure on the towing hitch.
- Train yourself to check out the trailer or camper every time you're about to take off.
Walk around to make sure everything is still in good order, and check that the hitch is still securely fastened. In 2011, a faulty trailer hitch was a factor in only 44 crashes in Texas and none of these were fatal. But these things do still happen, and you don't want them happening to you.
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