Summer Car Care Checklist: 6 Checks You Need to Make Before Your Summer Drive

Summer is an incredible time to get out and enjoy the open road around Austin. But before you hit the highway, you’ll want your car in top driving shape. Hot weather can be brutal on your vehicle, so summer car care can be a bit more intense. In this article, we’ll cover some basic summer car care tasks to help you get the most out of your car this summer.

summer car care checklist infographic

1. Summer Car Care for Tires

Both hot and cold weather can cause your tires to wear down faster, so you’ll want to check them at the start of winter and summer. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, and check the tread depth to ensure they have enough grip on the road.

You can do a quick check yourself using a quarter. Consider replacing your tires before your summer road trip if they are worn down:

UV damage can also dry rot the sidewalls of your tires, so be aware of that potential issue as well. Having your tires rotated, balanced, and aligned is also a good idea to ensure even wear and better handling throughout the year.

2. Check Your Fluids

A big part of summer car care is checking that your vehicle’s fluids are topped off. Heat can cause fluids in your car to thin and evaporate more quickly, so checking them regularly is crucial. Before temperatures really start to rise, be sure to check your:

  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Coolant
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Brake fluid

If any of these fluids are low, top them off before your summer adventures. It’s also a good idea to check when your last oil change was while you’re at it.

3. Check Your Air Conditioning

Summer in Austin without air conditioning should be illegal, so make sure your AC system is functioning at its best.

the sun

Zilker Park in July.

If your AC is blowing hot air, there are several possible culprits:

  • Broken cooling fans
  • The compressor has gone bad
  • Condensor is failing
  • Electrical issues

Tragically (because, seriously, it is hot in Austin), there’s a lot that can cause your AC not to work. If yours isn’t working as well as it should be, bring your car in for diagnostic testing.

4. Check Your Battery

Heat can cause your battery to lose its charge more quickly, so ensuring it’s ready to go is vital. Check your battery’s terminals for corrosion and make sure they’re clean since heat can expedite the oxidation process. It could be time for a fresh battery if you see white, crusty buildup on the battery terminals.

Even if you don’t see any apparent problems, if your battery is over three years old, consider having it tested by a professional mechanic to ensure it’s still in good condition.

5. Check Your Windshield Wipers

Summer thunderstorms can make visibility difficult, so make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. Check your wiper blades for signs of wear and replace them if necessary. It’s also wise to check that your windshield washer fluid is topped off.

High pollen counts can also mess with your wiper blades’ performance. And with the number of cedar trees in Austin, you will definitely encounter pollen. The wiper fluid mixing with the powder forms a paste over time that gets smeared across your windshield, which isn’t great for visibility. If you notice this happening, you’ll want to wipe down your wipers with a paper towel.

6. Check Your Brakes

We already mentioned checking your brake fluid, but you’ll also want your mechanic to sign off on your brake pads and rotors. Heat can cause your brakes to wear down faster, so be aware of any changes in your vehicle’s braking ability. Here are a few indicators that your brakes need some attention:

  • Squeaking
  • Grinding
  • Car taking too long to stop
  • Vehicle pulling to one side when you press the brake pedal

If you have any concerns about your brakes, don’t hesitate to bring your car in to have it inspected by a professional mechanic.

Wrapping Up

Regular maintenance on your car is important year-round, but it’s imperative during the summer months. Austin summers are only slightly cooler than the sun’s surface, and heat is tough on several of your car’s systems.

By checking your tires, fluids, air conditioning, battery, windshield wipers, and brakes, you’ll know your car is ready for anything the summer has in store. Like blistering heat and absurdly high pollen counts. So before you hit the road, make an appointment to get your vehicle summer-ready.

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