9 tips for getting your car through summer

budds summer car maintenance

Summer is road trip season, and even if you’re not hitting the Trans-Canada Highway, chances are you’ll be driving more than you do in winter.

Trouble is that summer, to state the obvious, is when temperatures rise—and that can cause problems for your car.

Tire pressures go up, oil thins and battery fluids evaporate. (You didn’t know about that one did you?)

Throw in an overheating engine—or overheating passengers if your air conditioning conks out—and you could be facing serious car trouble.

That’s why a little early summer TLC is so important. Here are 10 summer maintenance tips to get your car through to Fall.

1. Change your oil and filter.

Oil gets thinner at higher temperatures, but that’s not why you should change it as summer approaches. The real reason is that it wears out. After a few months it doesn’t lubricate as well, which means it doesn’t help with cooling to the same extent.

Really, regular oil changes are just good sense. Fortunately, Budds’ service department makes the job easy.

2. Check and top up fluids.

Coolant does exactly what its name implies: it takes heat away from the engine. Being low on coolant increases the risk of overheating, which will cause serious engine damage.

But don’t think you can just pour in some tap water! It’s important to use the coolant recommended by the manufacturer. If you need a top-up, you know where to go.

3. Check and adjust tire pressures.

The air in your tires expands when it gets hot. That raises the pressure and makes them firmer. Firmer tires don’t flex so much, so you get slightly less cushioning over bumps and potholes, a harder ride and better gas consumption.

However, the increased bowing over the tread means less rubber in contact with the road – so less grip.

Most importantly, if tire pressure rises too much you increase the risk of a blow-out. Keep an eye on your pressure over the warmer months.

4. Do a battery test.

High temperatures are hard on your car’s battery. They speed up the internal chemical reactions and increase fluid evaporation rates. Contact us if you want a check—we have equipment to test how well the battery is holding a charge, and can measure charging system performance.

budds summer family5. Inspect the belt.

Most modern engines have a single rubber belt driving all the accessories from the crankshaft. Rubber ages over time, becoming brittle and cracked.

If that belt fails, both the water pump and the alternator will stop immediately, and pretty soon you’ll be coasting to a halt.

Summer heat accelerates the speed at which rubber ages, and as you’re running the air conditioning more, there’s more load on the belt. That means a higher risk of failure.

6. Replace the cabin air filter and engine air filter.

If you find you can’t get air to blow into the cabin, chances are the cabin air filter is blocked. This is especially likely if you’ve been driving on dusty dirt roads. Get it changed before you end up sweating in a hot, stuffy car!

Dust will clog your engine air filter too, and that can affect how your car performs and its gas consumption. Replace the filter at the start of summer and you’ll avoid these problems.

7. Get the brakes inspected.

If there’s a road trip on your summer schedule you’ll want to be sure there’s plenty of life in your brake pads. Plus, dust will really make them squeal and grit can score the discs.

A brake inspection before you hit the road gives you peace of mind so you can enjoy the drive.

8. Test the A/C and recharge as necessary.

Just like the refrigerator at home, air conditioning relies on a gas that takes away heat. Over time that gas percolates out through the seals and the system loses its ability to lower cabin temperatures. The dealership has equipment for testing system pressure and can top it up if necessary.

9. Replace wiper blades.

Worn, cracked or inflexible wipers are safety issue. Don’t let a summer downpour leave you peering through a smeary windshield, and don’t put up with constant juddering. Get those blades swapped out before your road trip.

Avoid problems by planning ahead

Summer is a time when people drive more, and high temperatures affect your car in ways you may not realize. You don’t want car trouble spoiling your long-planned road trip, so heed these summer maintenance tips.

In fact, why not put a visit to Budds’ on your to-do list? Our expert technicians will look over all your car’s essential systems—and make sure it’s in shape for summer.