Hot weather can be rough on cars. Higher temperatures break down fluids and lubricants more quickly, which leads to more wear and tear on an engine.
Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your car or truck (see your owner’s manual) and using these precautionary tips from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) should have you roadway-ready as temperatures climb.
- Before taking any road trips, consider a pre-trip inspection by a licensed auto repair facility. Have any recommended repairs done before you leave.
- Test the air conditioning. Turn it on and let it run for a few minutes. Inspect the belts and hoses. You may want to have a service professional inspect the entire system.
- Inspect the battery and battery cables for corrosion, cracks, and dirt. Hot weather can shorten a battery’s life, so have it tested if it is near the end of its warranty. Replace the battery if necessary.
- Change the engine oil and filter according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. Your licensed service technician should also check the coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper, and steering fluids.
- Have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications.
- Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated. Look for uneven or excessive tread wear. Have your tires rotated based on the manufacturer specifications.
- Never leave for a trip with your car’s check-engine light or malfunction indicator light on. Have the problem diagnosed by a qualified technician and make necessary repairs before you leave.
- Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including turn signals and high beams, to make sure they work. Clean the lenses to get maximum visibility.
- Change your car’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s specifications—a dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and limits engine performance.
- Have the radiator and hoses checked for leaks and wear. Have the cooling system flushed and refilled according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This service should include a check of the pressure cap.
Remember: You can verify the license status of a repair dealer or other service specialist and check for possible disciplinary actions by visiting the Bureau of Automotive Repair website, www.autorepair.ca.gov. Click on “Verify a License.” Or, call (800) 952-5210 for the same information. For the Top 5 Reasons to Read Your Owner’s Manual or to find a registered repair shop in your area, visit the BAR website.