Here in southern California, temperatures have already hit the century mark and the rest of the nation will be hitting their peak temps soon as well. But while beach party and poolside BBQ temperatures are great for upright-walking bi-peds in cargo shorts and Polynesian shirts, it kills cars. However, we can slow the process. Before you drop the top and don the sunglasses, run through this summer checklist to make sure you don’t spend the summer with the backs of your legs sticking to your mechanics pleather sofa.
1. Make Sure You’re Not Under-tired
You thought this was just going to be about overheating, but tires are far more important. Bad or improperly inflated tires not only reduce fuel economy, but can result in a blowout and loss of control. Look for cracks in the sidewalls due to too many days in the sun, or improper wear and get them replaced immediately if necessary. Underinflated tires heat up – a problem magnified by scorching pavement – making them prime candidates for premature failure. Air ‘em up!
2. Watch Your Beltline and Don’t Get Hosed
Once you’ve taken care of your tires, look under the hood and check the condition of the rubber under there as well. There’s no sense in checking the coolant until you are sure no repairs need to be made. With the engine off and cool, look for cracks or oil on belts. If either condition exists, the belt should be replaced and in the case of oil, find out where it’s leaking from and get that fixed as well. Hoses should be somewhat rigid when squeezed at the midsection. If it can be compressed easily it’s time for a replacement.
3. Can You Handle the Pressure?
Even if the hoses and belts look good and no repairs are needed, you may not be out of the woods yet. Undetected leaks can wreak havoc, slowly letting coolant escape in an invisible spray of steam. If you routinely have to add antifreeze to your car’s radiator but see no drips, you should have your system pressure tested which should help expose that annoying loss of fluid waiting to turn into catastrophic failure.