Did you know that warm spring and summer weather can be just as hard on your vehicle as winter's cold and icy conditions? While your car might seem to have a more challenging time in the winter, the relentless summer sun poses its own unique challenges. It's important to understand these risks so you can take the steps necessary to protect your car and avoid unnecessary repairs.
Fortunately, there's not a laundry list of maintenance tasks necessary for good summer performance and reliability. Instead, follow these three simple car care tips, and your car will carry you through the warm months without complaint.
1. Check Your Battery
Automotive battery health is a complex and often misunderstood subject. The chemical reactions that occur in your battery speed up with temperature. In other words, your battery will produce less power during the winter, but the cold temperatures aren't harmful. On the other hand, warm weather can accelerate battery wear and lead to greater corrosion at the terminals.
Even if an older battery carried you through the winter, it might not make it through another summer. You should always have a competent shop or auto parts store test your battery before the hot weather arrives. Replace your battery if it's approaching the end of its lifespan; if not, thoroughly clean the battery terminals to avoid potential problems.
2. Deal With Cooling System Issues
Keeping cool is your engine's number one priority. Overheating can cause severe and potentially catastrophic damage, with just a few minutes of high temperatures resulting in head gasket failures that can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Your car relies on its cooling system and ability to dump heat into the ambient environment to maintain safe operating temperatures.
Damaged radiators, faulty water pumps, and failing cooling fans may function well enough during cold weather but struggle to maintain your car's temperature on hot days. Your car's heater provides another way to shed excess heat during the cold months. If you have any known cooling system issues, it's important to resolve them before summer arrives to avoid potentially costly engine damage.
3. Change Your Oil
In the past, switching to a thicker oil in the summer months was typically necessary to account for the thinning effect of high temperatures. Modern multi-viscosity synthetics don't suffer from this issue, so switching to a different oil is unnecessary before summer arrives. However, staying on top of routine oil changes is still crucial.
If you're already approaching your manufacturer's recommended oil change intervals, you'll want to schedule an oil change before warm weather arrives. Old oil can become thicker, increasing friction and heat while causing more engine wear. Changing your oil now will ensure you have clean oil of the proper viscosity in your engine once the higher temperatures arrive.