When you think of long, lazy, sun-drenched days sipping Mai Tais while perfecting your bronze glow, summer immediately comes to mind. While this fun outdoor season is a favorite of school kids and pasty office workers, it is one of the worst times of the year for your car, wreaking havoc with extreme temperatures.
From paint to tires, nothing escapes the beating glare of the sun. Just as you wouldn’t go into the sun without slathering on sunscreen, you shouldn’t toss your car into the summer heat without preventative measures in place.
As such, there are several vital measures you should take in order to keep your car looking fabulous (and most importantly, running). Read on for our best summer car care tips.
Check tire pressure
Hot air means more tire pressure and expansion, so the amount of air you put into your tires must be perfectly calibrated. Check the inside of your door jamb or glove compartment for the recommended tire pressure, or consult your owner’s manual. Don’t inflate your tires to the maximum pressure imprinted on the tire sidewall.
If you’re going on a road trip, check your tire pressure before you drive (before the tires heat up) to get an accurate reading. Use a quality tire pressure gauge – a dial-type analog gauge or a digital one – to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. Under inflating tires can create handling capability problems, whereas over inflating can cause a blowout.
While we’re on the topic of tires, don’t forget your spare! Most people don’t think their car will break down, or that if in the off chance it does, the spare will unfailingly be there to save the day. But that’s not always the case. Not sizing up your spare and performing maintenance could lead to a flat spare or a rusted spare carrier. And replacing one flat tire with another flat tire is not a solid protocol when you’re stranded. So make sure you check and inflate your spare.
Properly inflated tires will also help your fuel economy.
Keep yourself and your car cool with a/c
While a/c is typically a gas-guzzling monster, when you’re highway driving it saves more gas to roll the windows up with the a/c running than turning off the a/c and rolling the windows down. Not to mention a/c will provide the driver and passengers with sanity and comfort during the long journey.
Before you embark on your adventures, turn on your a/c and run it for a while to see if it gets cold. If not, take your car to the shop for repair since there may be a cooling system leak. Cabin air filters also need to be changed on a regular schedule for the best quality air.
Check your fluids and perform routine maintenance
Summer is prime time for road trips, many of them long-distance. And trust us, breaking down on the side of the road is bad, but breaking down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere when it’s 105º outside is pure punishment.
Make sure you don’t find yourself in this worst case scenario by ensuring your antifreeze is in good shape. Locate the coolant reservoir under the hood to check and change antifreeze relatively easily. The coolant amount should be between the minimum and maximum markings.
Next, to keep your fuel economy high, get necessary oil and filter changes as well as check and/or replace engine and air filters. Preventative maintenance will increase your engine’s longevity and give you better fuel economy.
While you’re driving, flip on cruise control for additional gas-saving benefits.
The sun’s heat wreaks superficial damage on your car while simultaneously heating up your car’s interior to miserable temperatures.
Remember this: when you protect your car’s exterior, you’re protecting your car’s interior.
What exactly do we mean by this? During the summer, doing maintenance on your car’s exterior will keep temperatures down and fuel economy up.
Sun exposure makes paint crack and fade, so regularly wax your car with a polish containing UV protectant, such as carnauba car wax. Carnauba car wax protects your car from UV rays, heat, moisture, environmental damage, and oxidation.
Waxing your car reduces wind drag, increasing fuel economy.
If you’re looking to both protect the beauty of your car’s interior and make temperatures more tolerable, consider purchasing an inexpensive sunshade, which prevents sunlight from entering through the windshield and reduces fading and cracking. The sunshade will also keep your car cooler. If possible, park in a parking garage or under a tree to minimize sun exposure.
If you’re willing to sink some money into a long-term investment, get your windows tinted. Window tinting blocks out about 99% of UVA and UVB rays (helping prevent skin aging and skin cancer), keeps your car up to 60% cooler, prevents cracking and fading, and even helps protect you during an accident by holding the glass together.