July 1, 2014
During the summer season, most of us spend more time in our cars, vacationing or taking weekend or day trips. Travel experts expect summer driving to increase even more this year, despite climbing gas prices, as a response to the unusually harsh winter that gripped much of the nation.
Paul Dintino, an ASE Master Technician and director of national accounts at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a chain of full service car care centers with locations nationwide, says a few simple steps at the start of the summer can keep your car running smoothly, safely and efficiently.
1. Check the tire pressure.
Dintino recommends checking the air pressure in all the tires. The ideal air pressure varies by make and model, so it’s important to refer to the owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer says is the best tire pressure. Dintino cautions 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 not only helps provide a safe and smooth ride, but it also improves fuel efficiency. Tires with a lower than recommended air pressure have more tire surface coming in contact with the road, which adds to friction that works against the engine.
2. Be sure the air filter is clean.
It’s important to check the air filter to be sure it’s clean. Dintino says 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. “A dirty air filter means you get less gas mileage,” he notes. “With today’s high gasoline prices, anything that lowers your car’s miles-per-gallon performance can cost you a bundle at the pump.”
3. Check wheel alignment.
Wheels should be checked regularly for proper alignment; at least once a year. “It’s especially important to check wheel alignment after the rough winter many of us had,” says Dintino, “since travel over rough icy roads and potholes can knock the alignment off.”
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.
4. Check the coolant.
Coolant helps prevent the water in the radiator from boiling and evaporating, which can leave you stranded and 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 “closed systems” that cannot be opened without proper equipment, so it’s best to have a service center check the coolant level for the recommended 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’s been running or serious injury could occur.
5. 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.
“A few simple steps can help keep your car running smoothly and safely,” says Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care’s Dintino.
About Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care: With locations across the U.S. and in Canada, Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care is an auto repair and transmission company for almost any make or model vehicle, foreign or domestic. Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care continues to take claim of the growing $200 billion aftermarket auto industry and specializes in complete transmission service, brakes, suspension, air conditioning service and much more. Cottman is based in Horsham, Pa. For more information, please visit www.cottman.com.