Summer Car Care Tips: 

I know this is not the most exciting or provocative subject to read about today but bear with me.

You have to remember that my "call to duty" at Survive55.com is to help our Baby Boomer generation, keep them informed, safe and plugged in the best I can.

Sometimes that means that we have to take care of the menial tasks in life as well so that little issues don't become bigger problems.

I am a huge advocate of "an ounce of prevention" philosophy.

So, today I am going to ask you to use an "ounce of prevention" to defend against possible big issues with your cars before the wild weather of summer sneaks up on you.


Summer's heat, dust, vacation travel and stop-and-go traffic can really take a toll on your vehicle.

Here in Arizona we get the extreme sides to the weather:  Excessive heat in the 100's for months on end, "Haboobs" or massive dust storms that can choke a camel and when it does rain, look out for microbursts and hail.

All of these wonders of nature can really wreak havoc with your cars.

And if you live somewhere in the nation that really does experience  true winter weather then the after effects of the snow, sleet, salt and freezing temperatures can really set you up for a breakdown.

So, although it may not be the most exciting subject to be tackling right now it is one of the most important, right?

Let's take a few minutes to look at some priority maintenance tips on what you can do to get your car, jeep, truck, SUV or crossover ready to roll this summer.

         Summer Car Care Tips


1.   Check the tire pressure.

This entire article started because I walked outside the other morning (it's now getting light at 5:00 AM) and noticed that the tires on our truck looked low.

Why was that?

Since air is a gas, it expands when heated and contracts when cooled.

The rule of thumb is for every 10° Fahrenheit change in air temperature, your tire's inflation pressure will change by about 1 PSI (up with higher temperatures and down with lower).

In most parts of the US, the difference between average summer and winter temperatures is about 50° Fahrenheit.

This can result in a potential gain or loss of about 5 PSI as the daily temperatures change.

Plus tires do lose pressure each day, through the process of permeation.

In cool weather, a tire will typically lose one or two pounds of air per month. but as it warms up it's common for tires to lose air at an even higher rate.

Put these together and you might find that your tires are down by 10 to 15 PSI from recommended pressures.

A 15 psi fluctuation can seriously affect handling, traction, and durability.

It is critical to have properly inflated tires at all times, as this assures the best possible contact between the tire and the road.

Make sure to read your owner's manual (you know that cool little book in your glove box) to find the correct tire pressures, and, if necessary, adjust pressures to compensate for the hotter operating conditions -- especially if you're doing lots of high-speed driving on a summer-vacation road trip.

Properly inflated tires will also last longer and improve gas mileage.

Because of summertime's higher temperatures, the air pressure in a warm tire rises.

Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressures.

The given tire pressure specifications are for when the tires are cold, therefore the pressure should be checked when the tires are cold -  best in the early morning.

P.S.  Don't forget to have the tires rotated so that they all wear evenly over time.


2.   Change the engine oil and adjust the viscosity grade.

OK, "Tool Time Tim" this isn't as hard as it sounds.

Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil.

Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity, and most newer grades are multi-viscous, which means the oil's thickness can change depending on its temperature.

Generally speaking, the warmer the oil is, the thinner it will be.

If the oil is too thin, the engine might not get the proper lubrication.

To resolve this summertime issue, you can change your vehicle's engine oil to one that is a little thicker.

Determining what type of oil your car should have during the summer is easy.

Simply read your vehicle's owner's manual (there's that snifty little book again) because it lists recommendations for different climates and temperatures.

If you don't want to get your hands dirty, head to a dealership or local garage and have them perform the oil change.

This time of year there are numerous Groupons, coupons and discounts available for a full service oil change.

Get your oil filter changed at the same time.

Be aggressive and ask to see the old filter when they pull it.

This way you can inspect the old oil to see how dirty it is and if there are any contaminants in it plus you really look like you know what you are doing.

As an FYI..........Most modern cars have recommended oil grades of 5W-30, 10W-30 or 10W-40 which are all multi-viscous grades.


3.   Check your battery.

A battery gives little warning before it goes dead.

In Arizona your car will start one moment and then it's dead as a door nail the next.

More than likely the battery will expire when you least expect it.

Be prepared.

Hot weather can put additional strain on a battery.

If your vehicle battery is more than three years old, have it tested.

They will do that for free at AutoZone, Napa or any neighborhood auto parts dealer.

Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion.

If you experience any sign of power drop: lights dim at starting, power drain when turning on the A/C, slow cranking, etc. then it is a sure sign your battery is dying.

If you're embarking on a long trip, consider replacing the battery if you don't know how old it is.

It really is cheap insurance when you're out on the open road.


4.   Inspect the belts and hoses.

Darla and I were just talking about this the other night.

Her truck is about 5 years old and we don't think the belts have ever been changed.

The belts and hoses in modern vehicles last a long time, but that doesn't mean they don't have the potential to fail.

This is not the "good old days" where you can tie a shoe lace around your pullies to get by until you reach a gas station for repairs.

These serpentine belt configurations (or SBC's as I like to call them....LOL) are damn complicated and one failure can lead to a whole mess of trouble.

Before summer begins take you vehicle to a shop (I recommend the same time you are having your oil changed and tires checked and rotated) to have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle.

Again, like your battery, if you're not sure when they were last replaced, consider having them changed, especially before heading out a long road trip.


5.   Inspect the wipers and wiper fluid.

Here is where "Murphy's Law" will always rear it's ugly head.

It will always start raining while you are on your way to get your windshield wipers changed out.

Don't let that happen to you.

Be preemptive with old Mr. Murphy.

Head over to your favorite auto parts store and, if you are nice, they will probably offer to change them out for you.

It only takes a a few minutes.

Visibility is always important and even more so during the exotic summer storms that can be quite severe in some parts of the country like Arizona.

Throw together a massive dust storm and a quick downpour and you have a recipe for total lack of visibility.

The life expectancy of a wiper blade is one year.

If your car's blades are dried out and not making full contact with the windshield, replace them.


6.   Check coolant/antifreeze mixture.

Before you know it, it's going to get freaking hot outside.

Make sure your coolant is functioning properly or you will toast your engine.

The ideal mixture of coolant and water inside your vehicle's radiator is 50:50.

If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot-weather performance can be compromised.

It's not like the old days where you poured an entire jug of Prestone into the radiator every summer.

The cooling system on modern vehicles is dialed in and sensitive to changes.

Today's engines run much hotter than they ever did.

Follow the instructions in your owner's manual (that damned little book again).

You can check the balance of your radiator's mixture by using an antifreeze tester.

You can find these at all auto parts stores, and they are inexpensive and easy to use.

If the mixture's balance is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water


7.   Air Conditioning

Let me say it again: Before you know it, it's going to get freaking hot outside.

Don't get caught in a sweltering car on a 100+ degree day wishing you had checked your A/C.

Trust me, a marginally operating system will fail in hot weather.

Have the system examined by a qualified technician.

There are Groupons and coupons and discounts for this service as well.

A properly functioning A/C system in your car is not a luxury.

It is a necessity in Arizona and other parts of the country in the summer.

Does your car have the summer time "stink"?

Mine does.

Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system.

These can get real dirty real fast and even get moldy (thus the smell) because of the moisture from the A/C system.

Check your owner's manual (you know what I'm talking about right? - that little book again) for location and replacement intervals.


8.   Engine Filters

Speaking of "stinky" and "dirty" make sure to replace all of your other vehicle filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in hot and dusty conditions.

Many times a simple, low cost filter will be the cause of an engine malfunction like hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.

When you are getting your oil changed, tires tested and rotated, air conditioning and/or fluids checked at a good shop then get these filters looked at and replaced if needed.


9.   Carry an emergency kit inside your car.

This is probably not something you ever thought about before as a vehicle maintenance tip but you should consider carrying a "safety" kit at all times in your trunk.

Include the following:

  1. A flashlight, flares and highway triangles
  2. First-aid kit.
  3. Jumper cables.
  4. Extra clothes and gloves.
  5. Paper towels and rags
  6. Extra washer fluid.
  7. Food and water.
  8. Basic tools like wrenches, a ratchet and sockets, screwdrivers and pliers or Vise-Grips.
  9. Rope and bungee cords
  10. Pencils, paper and accident forms

I got into this habit thanks to the companies I worked for in the past. 

They required everyone with a company car to keep an emergency kit in their trunks.

It has saved my skin and made my life much easier many times in the past.


10.   Get a car wash

OK, so your prized Porsche (or in my case a 1954 Oldsmobile Dilemma) is all checked out and ready to roll this summer.

The tires look good, the wipers are new, the fluids and A/C are checked out so what is left to do?

Get your prized puppy washed, waxed and detailed that's what.

Not only do you look "hot" rolling down the street in a clean vehicle but proper maintenance of the paint will keep it looking good for years down the road.

Plus there are safety reasons to keep your vehicle clean as well.

It is important to keep your headlights clear and bright.

The vehicle will run cooler if you keep your radiator from becoming a bug zoo.

And it's pretty damn important that you can see out the windshield as well while driving.


Like I said, this isn't the flashiest of topics to talk about and this article probably won't go viral (unless you somehow feel it should and you pass it on to everyone you know) but it is timely and it is very important to your safety and state of mind.

You are in your car a lot so make sure you don't lose a lot of brain cells worrying about how it is running.

If you found my blog helpful, interesting or even funny (you sick bastard) I bet your friends would to.

Please forward it to them or tell them about it by clicking on the FaceBook "Like", "Twitter", "LinkedIn" or Email social icon buttons below.

The more Baby Boomers we can help,  the better place we make this world !!!

Thanks for joining me..........................................................