7 signs it’s time for a summer tune-up


Sleeping out under the stars, canoe adventures, lazy days at the lake…. What’s not to like about summer?

Well, would it surprise you to learn that your car isn’t a big fan?

Summer is hard on cars. Not only do we drive further, but the roads are dusty and the temperatures high. Yet still we expect perfect comfort and total reliability.

Little wonder that summer is the time when some cars start to give trouble.

7 signs to watch for

Cars are complex machines. Thousands of parts work in unison every time you turn the key, keeping you safe and getting you where you need to be.

Over time though, especially if you don’t stay on top of those scheduled services, things start to deteriorate.

Parts wear, filters clog, oil degrades, plastics and rubber break down and everything gets too hot.

This is why scheduled services aren’t optional. They ensure problems are spotted before it’s too late.

But if you do ignore them and things start going wrong, here are the signs.

1. Poor starting.

You might think cold kills car batteries, and it does. But not as quickly as high temperatures. When things get warm under the hood, battery chemistry starts to change.

That can leave you with less charge and make your car hard to start.

Avoid this by having a service technician run a comprehensive test of your battery and charging system.

2. Brakes squealing, juddering or pulling to one side.

Brakes work by pressing friction pads against the brake discs. That material wears away with use—and after a while, the brake pads, and sometimes the discs too, must be replaced.

If the material wears unevenly or grit gets stuck between the disc and pad (a common occurrence on dusty roads,) you can get problems.

Perhaps they’ll squeal loudly every time you stop, or you’ll feel a judder through the steering. Maybe the car will pull to one side as you brake. All these are signs something isn’t right.

If you experience any of these have the braking system inspected as soon as possible.

3. No cold air entering cabin.

Pleasantly cool air isn’t just a “comfort thing”—it can affect your safety too. Those sticky, sweaty sensations are distracting, and could even make it more likely that you lose your temper when someone does something dumb.

A lack of cold air could just mean a blocked cabin air filter. Alternatively, perhaps you need a charge of new refrigerant gas. These are easily addressed by a competent technician, so don’t delay—get your air fixed!

4. Gas mileage not as good as it was.

Fuel systems are complex, and several things could make your gas consumption increase. A dirty air filter is one cause, as dusty summer air can quickly clog the material. But there could be other factors at work. For instance, dust may be affecting one of the myriad sensors throughout the intake system.

5. “Check Engine” light is on.

budds overheated carThis is never good at any time, but you should really get this checked out before embarking on a summer road trip—especially if it’s flashing!

It may just be that the gas cap is loose, but there could be other things going on. A failing oxygen sensor in the exhaust is another common cause, and that could affect both gas consumption and emissions.

6. Lumpy/uneven idle.

You’re stopped at a red light and you notice that the car seems to be shaking more than it used to.

This could mean there’s a problem with the spark plugs, spark plug wires, or other ignition system components.

Ignore this one at your peril, because doing so could lead to serious engine damage!

(Don’t worry, though—most likely the Check Engine light will come on before that happens.)

7. Hesitation when accelerating.

If the car seems to cough or hiccup when you’re merging onto the freeway there could be several causes. It might mean the air filter is blocked, (a common summer problem,) or that there’s a fault in the ignition or fuel systems. Any of these could leave you stranded at the side of the road and your vacation plans in disarray, so if you spot a hesitation have the car looked at promptly.

Enjoy your summer

You waited a long time for these beautiful summer days… Don’t waste them waiting for the recovery truck to arrive. If there’s any hint that your car isn’t running the way it should, don’t delay. Call Budds’ Service Department and we’ll take care of everything. And hey—even if all you need is a tune-up, ask us about our Summer Maintenance package… We’d be happy to help.