Keep your car in tip-top shape this summer!With our Fourth of July celebrations in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get down to some serious business. Making sure your car has all of the maintenance it needs to get through the summer and stay in great condition. Preventive care can help you save money and prevent extra damage and cost. If your catalytic converter isn’t working properly you could be spending too much money at the fuel pumps. At Bud’s Mufflers, we are here to make sure that your car is working great! Check out these tips to keep your car running smoothly this summer.
Top 10 Car Summer Maintenance Tips
Summertime is travel time. Even with gasoline prices at an all-time high, Americans can’t resist the lure of sunny skies and the open road. According to a survey by AAA, 31.7 million Americans planned to travel by car over Memorial Day weekend 2008, despite gas prices that are an average of $.60 more per gallon over the previous year [source: The Los Angeles Times].
Before hitting the road this summer, you can take several simple precautions to keep your family safe and save money at the pump. Extreme heat and long drives can be tough on cars. Cracked hoses, leaky radiators, underinflated tires and dirty filters can significantly lower your fuel efficiency, or worse, lead to a total breakdown.
Check Your Tires
Tires are one of the most overlooked parts of a car. According the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), only one out of 10 drivers checks his or her tire pressure correctly, compared with almost seven out of 10 who wash their cars regularly [source: RMA]. But the truth is that an under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tire can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather.
Tire pressure changes with the rising temperatures — approximately one to two PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree increase in outside air temperature [source: RMA]. Consult your owner’s manual or the sidewall of your tire to see what your tire pressure should be and check it with a hand pressure gauge or just let the guys at the service shop do it for you.
An under-inflated tire bulges outward and puts undo pressure on the sidewalls of the tire. With enough heat and pressure, that tire eventually will blow. An over-inflated tire, on the other hand, makes less contact with the road and can lead to hydroplaning in wet conditions.
Use the penny trick to see if you still have enough tread on your tires. Stick a penny in the tread, and if Lincoln’s head disappears, you’re good [source: CBS News]. Your local service shop or specialty tire store can also check your tires for proper alignment and balance.
And don’t forget about your spare! There’s no point in having a spare tire if your spare is in worse condition than the rest. Make sure the spare is properly inflated and has ample tread depth.
Change Oil and Oil Filter
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Most owner’s manuals suggest that you change your oil and oil filter every 7,500 miles (12,070 kilometers). Oil change specialists suggest every 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) or three months. The fact is, most of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer when an engine is more likely to overheat. So at least check your oil before you head out on that road trip with the family.
To check your oil, let your car run for a few minutes, then park it on a level surface and shut off the engine. Open the hood and locate the oil dipstick. You’re looking for two things here: the level of oil and how the oil looks [source: CBS News]. If you’re low on oil, you can either add another quart or simply change the oil completely. The oil should look brownish yellow and clean on the stick. If the oil is a dark color or there’s a lot of dirt and grime in it, then you definitely need an oil change and oil filter replacement.
Wait, didn’t you do a lot of these things when you got your car ready for colder weather? As a matter of fact, yes. On the next page, we’ll look at some winter maintenance you should undo for summer.
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