Prepare Your Car for the Summer Heat

car driving in summer sun

Our rides remind us to do so much for them with dashboard notifications or even phone notifications for smart cars. They can tell us when they need their oil changed, tires rotated, or engines checked. However, there are still some things we need to be mindful of on our own. In fact, something we may often forget to do is properly prepare our cars for the upcoming seasons. Now that the temperature is rising, we've put together a checklist to prepare your car for the summer heat.

Check Your Air Conditioner

Everyone likes a cool ride. To ensure your vehicle is up to the task, test it out before it gets too hot outside or before you take your car on a long road trip. If you notice the air does not feel cool enough, it could be something as simple as needing more refrigerant. Most auto stores carry refrigerant and can help you determine whether you can replenish the supply on your own.

To prevent your system from working harder than it has to, make sure you replace your air filters regularly. This will improve the air quality inside your car, too. Many mechanics will also offer specials to check and fix your AC system to ensure it is reaching peak efficiency.

Look Under the Hood

This should be done when your vehicle hasn’t been driven in at least a few hours, otherwise it will be too hot to touch. Once you’re sure your engine is cool, pop the hood and look around. You want to look for any loose or cracked hoses. Pay special attention to the rubber components (hoses and belts); make sure they are not warped or frayed.

under the engine of the car

Check that all of the caps are tight and that they are not broken. You also want to make sure there is not any debris blocking anything, especially around the radiator and air filter.

Look for signs of a leak not only under the hood, but also on the ground. Condensation dripping is normal when you are using the AC, but colorful or oily liquids can be a sign of trouble and should be inspected by your mechanic.

Test the Battery

The rise in the temperature can take a toll on your battery. Before you have trouble starting your car, stop by your local auto store to have it tested. Many stores will test it for free.

Pay Attention to Tires

Tire pressure fluctuates when the temperature changes, which can happen overnight. When the tire pressure is over or under the recommended measurement, it makes your ride less fuel-efficient. It can also cause your tires to wear unevenly, meaning you will have to replace them more frequently. Rotating and balancing them regularly improves fuel efficiency and handling as well.

Also, swapping out your winter tires for summer tires will help with handling and gripping the road better during the warmer months.

Monitor Radiator Temperature

Part of preparing your car for the summer heat includes making sure your radiator has plenty of coolant. Your radiator is one of the components you should inspect while you have the hood up. Keeping an eye on the temperature gauge located on your dashboard will help you avoid problems and alert you when your vehicle is running too hot.

If it is running hot, you can try turning on the heat to pull the hot air from the engine. Running hot could also mean your coolant is too low or you have a leak. You should also always keep extra coolant in your trunk.

Be sure to never touch or remove the radiator cap while the engine is on or you could be severely burned.

Keep up with Oil Changes

Your oil should be changed in accordance with your owner’s manual, but strenuous driving conditions means you should be changing it more frequently. It is important to check the oil level regularly, especially if you are planning a road trip. You want to keep some extra oil in the trunk, too.

Replace Worn Windshield Wipers

Icy winter conditions cause a lot of wear on your wiper blades; you will need to replace them to prepare you car for summer if they are worn. Inspect your wipers by lifting the arm to see if the bottom edge is still flat and in one piece. If you notice they are making a chattering sound or leaving streaks, this is also a sign they should be replaced.

windshield wipers in rain

The warmer season is also bug season. This means you will be using your wipers and windshield washing fluid a lot more, so you want to make sure your fluid is topped off. You can also buy special washing fluids that are formulated to help clean off bugs to make sure your field of vision is not compromised.

Update Your Safety/Emergency Kit

You can buy a safety kit from you local discount or auto store, or you can put together a customized one on your own. Your kit should include a flashlight, orange warning triangles, blanket, tire pressure gauge, first-aid supplies, and light sticks. You will also want to keep plenty of water in BPA-free containers that will be able to withstand the season’s extreme temperatures.

You should also ensure you have a jack, jumper cables, and a spare tire in good condition. Most automobiles come with these things nowadays, but not always, especially if you buy a pre-owned vehicle.

Some other things to consider keeping your trunk would be a fire extinguisher, battery-operated radio, air-pump, and fix-a-flat kit. Also, f you get a window-smashing or seat-belt-cutting tool, you will want to keep that within reach of the driver’s seat for convenient access in an emergency.

Bonus Tip: Keeping your ride clean and waxed is also important, as it will protect the paint from the sun’s damaging rays.

There is a lot of work and forethought that goes into preparing your car for the summer heat, but it will save you money and headaches down the road.