Whether it’s a Father’s Day gift or simply a gift to yourself as a car owner, a summer tune-up is a good way to keep your car running smoothly and safely. The annual salute to Dads is good time to think about summer car care, since this is when most of us spend more time in our cars, vacationing or taking weekend or day trips.
“A few simple steps at the start of the summer can keep your car running smoothly, safely and efficiently,” says Paul Dintino, an ASE Master Technician and Director of National Accounts at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a brand with locations across the U.S. that services almost any make or model vehicle, foreign or domestic.
- Check the tire pressure.
Dintino recommends checking the air pressure in all the tires. The recommended air pressure varies by make and model, so it’s important to refer to the owner’s manual. It’s important not to exceed the recommended pressure, especially in the summer when air temperatures and road surfaces are hotter, since air expands with heat. Maintaining the proper tire pressure helps provide a safe and smooth ride, and it also helps with fuel efficiency, since under-inflated tires add friction that works against the engine.
- Be sure the air filter is clean.
It’s important to check the air filter to be sure it’s clean. A dirty filter prevents the proper amount of air to get into the system, and an improper mixture of fuel and air retards the efficiency of combustion in the engine, lowering the gas mileage.
- Check wheel alignment.
The wheels should be checked at least once a year for proper alignment, Dintino says. “It’s especially important to check the wheel alignment after a rough winter since icy roads and potholes can knock the alignment off,” he adds. Improper wheel alignment can be costly, since it causes tires to wear unevenly and more quickly, and it also creates more drag which lowers gas mileage.
- Check the coolant.
Coolant helps prevent the water in the radiator from boiling and evaporating, which can leave you stranded. Running the engine without proper coolant can also cause major engine damage. It’s especially important in the warm weather of summer, when air temperatures are higher and the car’s air conditioning is often in use.
Many of the new cars have what’s called “closed systems” which cannot be opened without proper equipment, so it’s best to have a service center check the water level and the amount of coolant. If you have an older model that enables you to open the radiator, only do so when the car is cold. Never open the radiator cap after the car has been running or serious injury could occur.
- Check your brakes.
Don’t wait until your hear your brakes squeak, Dintino says. Brakes should be checked once a year, and the start of the summer driving season is a good time to have it done.
“Some advance care as the summer begins can help keep your car running smoothly and safely,” says Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care’s Dintino. And that’s a great gift for any dad or car owner.