Our automobiles are built pretty tough. Two tons of metal being propelled by a controlled explosion pretty much has to be tough by definition. That’s a pretty cool way of describing a car and an accurate one if you think about it. But, our cars and trucks are not invincible as we are all inevitably reminded whenever we have to worry about what the next auto repair will be. Regular maintenance is part of responsible vehicle ownership. And, to be perfectly honest, if you want to save money in the long run you’ll want to keep up with your repairs. Smaller maintenance tweaks cost far less than major repairs when something goes wrong or, worse, you need to buy a whole new vehicle.
In order to effectively stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance, it’s important to know when you need to keep on top of certain issues. Believe it or not, the weather can really put the hurt on your vehicle. That goes for extreme weather in either direction. But, as of this writing we’re in May, so let’s focus on how the hot summer months can really put additional stress on your vehicle. The summertime is ripe for causing situations where you would need to invest in auto repair. So, keeping an eye on certain parts of your vehicle would be in your best interest.
The main system you have to keep an eye on is related to cooling and powering that cooling. The cooling system of the vehicle itself along with the air conditioning to keep its occupants cool are put under heavy stress during the summer months. As a result of this stress, your battery can really suffer as well. Additionally, though not connected to the other components, your tires and oil are other components of your vehicle you’ll want to keep an eye on once the temperature really goes up. Here is what you need to know about these vehicle components that get especially stressed during the summer.
It only makes sense to start with the part that powers all the others. It’s important to keep an eye on your battery all year, but the warm months are when it’ll be put under the heaviest load. But it’s not just usage that wears the battery down. Environmental factors play a big part.
Heat is especially bad for batteries. Vibration isn’t great either, but in a moving vehicle that’s hard to avoid. But, you can make sure your battery is properly secured to minimize issues. Thermal runaway is something you’re going to be looking to avoid. If you want a very in-depth read on the math and science behind battery thermal runaway you can check out this blog post. For many, the pictures of batteries will be enough to demonstrate the possible destructiveness. Have your mechanic make sure the battery is securely mounted and the charging output is correct.
Clearly, your cooling system will be working overtime to make sure your vehicle doesn’t overheat. This means being mindful of your coolant levels. Driving around with low coolant for too long can cause serious damage. There are two things when it comes to coolant that you should be mindful of. The first is that coolant, like any other vehicle fluid, will eventually break down due to use. Similarly to your car’s oil, your coolant contains compounds that protect your vehicle from conditions like corrosion, freezing, or boiling. And, similarly to oil, once coolant breaks down and damaging particles get through, major parts of your vehicle can get clogged and cease to work properly. In this case, it would be your radiator.
Running low on coolant and not replacing it regularly isn’t the only thing you need to be mindful of. An already damaged radiator or, more commonly, worn out hoses can also be causing you to lose coolant at an even faster rate. Because of the already intense outside temperatures, engine overheating becomes even more likely.
Air Conditioning Systems
Can you imagine driving around in high temperatures without being able to keep yourself cool? Pretty horrible, right? If you want to actually stand being able to be in your car for long periods of time, you need to make sure your air conditioning system is working reliably. It’s important to note here when you’re discussing auto repairs, air condition system repairs in particular can be very expensive if the issue is severe enough. That’s why you want to get out ahead of any issues.
You should bring your vehicle in so a mechanic can inspect belts, clear out any clogged vents, and check for leaks that could be an indication of a greater problem brewing. Your mechanic will also check your refrigerant to ensure there is enough present to optimally run your air conditioning system. With these simple maintenance measures put in place, you can avoid a full air conditioning system replacement.
If your battery, coolant levels, and your air condition system are all looking good, you’re in pretty good shape. But, your tires need some attention, too. People often forget about their tires and assume they’re always good to go as long as they’re not bald. But, the summer brings unique risks that can degrade your tires quickly.
To put it simply, the combination of high temperatures and low air pressure can make for a risky situation. While you should always be aware of the status of your tire pressure, the increased heat and very hot asphalt can cause issues with deflated tires more quickly. Temperature changes have a greater impact on air pressure than many people may realize. Always inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI.
We’ve already touched on coolant and mentioned oil there, but it’s important to reiterate the importance of being cognizant of the status of your motor oil. All of your vehicle’s fluids are critical to proper function. Like with many vehicle components, they should be minded all year. But the summer brings its own challenges.
Hot engines need proper lubrication to run properly. They run even hotter during the summer, so the need for consistent oil levels is very important. In the past, you may have heard you need to use thicker motor oil for the summer. This used to be the case but many modern engines have done away with this requirement. This is due to the fact that most engine wear occurs during short period after start up and it’s easier for thinner oil to lubricate all the engine components quicker than thicker oil. The most important maintenance item to remember is to periodically check your oil levels to make sure they are where they should be and bring your vehicle in for regular oil changes to avoid the buildup of engine-damaging sludge.
If the hot weather has you feeling stressed, your car would agree if it could speak. The summer months, while fun to take a trip during, are really taxing on your vehicle. But, by keeping an eye on the above components and bringing in your vehicle now for some pre-summer maintenance, you can avoid more costly repairs. At Independent Motors, we strive to provide you with the best service at the most competitive prices. And we value honesty above all. We’ll be up front about what would be best for prolonging your vehicle’s life. Call us today to schedule a time to bring in your vehicle and get ready for the summer.