Whether you are planning a road trip to your favorite summer vacation spot or doing the usual commute from home to work, the Washington, D.C. metro area’s summer heat puts extra demands on your car. Drivers should follow proper automotive maintenance and read the vehicle owner’s manuals to be sure their vehicles will perform safely and dependably all summer long.
Here is a check-list of driving and maintenance tips to ensure your vehicle is ready for the summer heat, humidity and thunderstorms:
1. Windshield care: To improve visibility in the rainy weather, use a rain repellant -- Aquapel or RainX -- these products will cause the water to bead on the windshield so that the rain quickly rolls off.
2. Replace worn wiper blades: Purchase new blades for the summer season to adequately clear the windshield when bugs and thunderstorms hit the region.
3. Use All-Season Radials and check tire tread and compound: Use all-season radials. With summer showers, tires with deep treads will accommodate accumulated water, while tires with worn treads may cause the car to hydroplane, riding up on a film of water and losing contact with the pavement.
4. Monthly Tire Checks: With the temperatures getting warmer, tire pressures change, so we recommend checking tires monthly to make sure that they are inflated to manufacturers' recommendations. Be sure to avoid over-inflating tires since this can lead to premature or irregular tire wear and poorer performance. Check tire pressure when tires are cool for the most accurate reading.
5. Rotate Tires: Rotate tires to extend their lifespan. Usually this means rotating front to back and/or side to side but it can also mean remounting tires for maximum longevity.
6. Change the Air Filter Twice a Year: The air filter keeps dust and dirt out of cylinders; if the filter is clogged or dirty, the gas mileage can decrease and engine wear can increase. A properly-tuned engine will help get the vehicle the best gas mileage.
7. Check the air conditioning (A/C) and ventilation system: Test your air conditioning system and make sure it can cool air to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The most common A/C issue is low refrigerant levels, so it may need to be recharged if necessary or the system may need to be checked for any leaks that might deplete your refrigerant levels. Run the A/C system for 5-10 minutes per month even in the winter. By running the system monthly helps keep everything lubricated and ready to go to work when needed.
8. Replenish Your Emergency Kit or Create a Kit: Make sure there is an emergency kit complete with a first aid kit, flashlight, gloves, rain gear, jumper cables, a toolkit, radiator fluid or water, fix-a-flat, non-perishable snacks and bottled water, road flares or warning signals, and a fire extinguisher. Also carry a spare tire, jack, and tire iron and make sure they are all in working order. No matter the time of year, all vehicles should have a complete emergency kit.
9. Check Belts and Hoses: Check all belts for excessive wear, cracks and frays and check hoses for leaks, cracks, frays and swelling. Harsh winter weather and road salt can make these rubber parts brittle and worn.
10. Inspect all lights and bulbs: Replace burned out bulbs, periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses and walk around the vehicle to be sure all light bulbs are working and bright.
The summer heat, humidity and heavy rain all impact your vehicle. Utilizing this check-list and help your vehicle deal with summer conditions.