Thursday, September 4, 2014

End of Summer Car Maintenance

Is it getting dark outside earlier and earlier every day? Are you starting to feel a little chill in the early morning, especially when you realize the custard stand is closed until next year? Yes, yes, and yes? Then sadly, the summer must me coming to an end.

It's time to put away the shorts and tank tops and bring back the wool socks and puffy jackets. Many people make small changes around their homes as well to make sure they are prepared for the colder months. And now is the perfect time to do so since the weather is still nice!

Besides your home and health, your car is probably next in line as one of the most expensive and important assets. So be smart and take the time out of your day to make sure your car is prepared and ready just like you have prepared yourself and your house for the cold winter.

Here are the five areas you need to inspect to insure your car is ready:

1) Oil Changes and Quality

The high temperatures, increased amount of drivers on the road, and even the quality of summer gasoline can cause engine oil to expire at a much quicker rate. This is why the end of summer is a critical time for an oil change. This also gives you a chance to visually inspect your vehicle's oil quality.

To check out the oil, make sure your car has been idle for long enough to completely cool off. Take the oil dipstick and dab it on your finger and then rub the oil between two fingers. You will be able to tell immediately if your oil is smooth and clean or gritty. Oil always gets dirty, but checking how dirty is it with your own two hands can tell you a lot about your engine.

Most cars take a different type of oil in the winter as compared to the other months, and even though the end of the summer is a good time for an oil change, don't switch the type of oil just yet. The harsh cold that requires a different type of oil is still a couple months away.

2) Tires

You should constantly check your tires for uneven or worn down treads, but between seasons this inspection is especially important. The summer heat can corrode and wear down your tires which can be very dangerous on slick winter roads.

The sun even causes your tires to lose air pressure, creating even more driving hazards. In fact, for every ten degrees that the temperature rises, you lose an entire PSI! Proper tire pressure gives you the best fuel economy, keeps your car stable, and is crucial for keeping traction on the road.

So, keep an eye on your tires if you want to keep you, your passengers, and the passengers in other vehicles all safe.

3) Wiper Blades

Windshield wiper blades never last as long as we wish they would, usually from the wear of season and weather changes. So, this is an important time to take a look at the quality of your wipers. Look for cracks in the blades and check for a tacky feeling. And of course the best way to tell is if they just aren't cleaning your windshield as well as they used to.

Even if none of these signs are present, you should still consider the damage that the extreme cold might bring. Remember, wiper blades are not only for rainy seasons, but are also helpful in the icy rain and snowy conditions that will be upon us all soon. Replace your windshield wipers so you don't find yourself in a bad situation after an unexpected snowfall.

4) Coolant System

Your vehicle's engine coolant has been through a lot over the past summer. It has kept your engine at the correct temperature so that everything inside your car works the right way despite the heat and humidity outside.

Your radiator is responsible for keeping your vehicle's systems at a constant temperature. Cracks or leaks in your cooling system can cause you to lose coolant. If your engine or transmission overheats, it can result in significant damage to your vehicle, and costly repairs.

Excessive heat can evaporate coolant, causing you to lose the fluid much quicker than normal. And now that temperatures are about to drop again, there couldn't be a better time to have your coolant system inspected and possibly even flushed.

In the winter, coolant works to keep your vehicle warm by collecting heat and transferring it to the passenger cabin heating system. So if you don't want to be stuck with lukewarm air coming out of your vents in the freezing cold this winter, make sure your car has clean coolant.

5) Fuel System

Like the other parts of your car, the summer heat and increased driving have caused damage to your fuel system as well. Gas quality usually declines during the summer months since more people are driving and doing it more often, which increases demand for fuel. And using this poor quality gas for months on end definitely takes a toll on your fuel systems.

The best thing drivers can do is get a complete fuel system flush from a mechanic they trust. But if that isn't possible, you should at least add cleaning additives and detergents to your fuel tank. You can find many of these fuel cleansing products at your local auto parts store, and even some gas stations.

Remember not to go crazy with these products. Always follow your vehicle manufacturer suggestions, as well as the directions provided with the cleaning products and your car will take care of you through the harsh upcoming cold months.

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