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Prepare Your Car For The Summer Driving Season

UPDATED June 10, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill


Hitting the road this summer? Before you venture to the mountains to cool off or the beach to soak in the sun`s rays, you should take a few minutes to ensure your car is fully prepared to go the distance.

The number one reason vehicles break down in the summer is related to coolant problems and the engine overheating. This can be caused by leaves, pine needles or other debris residing on the engine that can easily be cleaned out. If your car`s radiator cap is more than 5-years old, it will need to be replaced to avoid cracks and damage. The radiator cap keeps coolant or water circulating in the radiator and raises its boiling point to prevent it from overheating.

If you haven`t had your car`s coolant serviced in 5 years, this should be done prior to the summer driving season to ensure its anti-corrosion and thermal capabilities remain at peak performance. The fan belt is another important part that helps prevent overheating. It is located in the front of the car and should be securely in place and not contain any cracks. In addition, the radiator fluid level should be checked and inspected for leaks.

A few other simple measures can be taken to avoid a car breakdown disaster this summer:

  • Continue with regular oil changes, usually every 3,000 miles, although some cars can go 5,000 miles. Refer to the owner`s manual that came with your car for recommended mileage between oil changes.
  • A loose gas cap can often trigger the "check engine" or "emissions service" lights. This sometimes happens when it is not on airtight.
  • The gasket around the gas cap should be inspected for damage or cracks.
  • The terminals on your car battery should be corrosion-free and fit tightly on the battery.
  • Make sure headlights are working properly and there are no wiring problems.
  • Have the car`s air conditioning inspected. Some shops will do this for free or for a discounted price with a coupon.

A mechanic can complete a comprehensive visual inspection on the above items in addition to several other important parts of your car. Brake pads should be functioning properly and their thickness should be within the specifications outlined in the owner`s manual. Power steering, transmission, brake and washer fluids should be checked for cleanliness, proper levels and any leaks. Hoses and belts should not be damaged; softer and weak areas indicate likeliness for them to burst.

Taking these simple precautions will help keep you and your family from being stranded on the road this summer during vacation season.

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Story Image: The old Route 66 in southern California is ready for your road trip. (Wikicommons)

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