April is National Car Care Month: Is Your Car Ready for Summer?

BAR’s resources help you get there

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, summer driving racks up 20 percent more miles than winter months. Staying on top of car maintenance is important all year long, but with April being National Car Care Month, DCA’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) uses the opportunity to remind California consumers to make sure their vehicles are operating at peak efficiency before heading out on summer road trips.

Summer heat can be harsh on vehicles. High temperatures can break down fluids and lubricants more quickly, which leads to more wear and tear on the engine. Hot weather can also reduce battery life. BAR’s pamphlet, Summer Driving: Tips for Getting Your Car in Shape,” provides a checklist to help you get road trip-ready:

  • Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.
  • Consider a pre-trip inspection by a licensed automotive repair dealer. Have any recommended repairs done before you leave. Verify the license status of a repair dealer by visiting BAR’s website, bar.ca.gov and clicking on the “License Search” button, or call (800) 952-5210.
  • Never leave for a trip with your car’s check engine light or malfunction indicator light on. Have the problem diagnosed and repaired by a licensed automotive repair dealer 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 service intervals and specifications. A dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
  • Have the radiator and hoses checked for leaks and wear. Have the cooling system flushed and refilled according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. This service should include a check of the pressure cap.
  • Test the air conditioning. Turn it on and let it run for a few minutes. Inspect the belts and hoses for cracks and leaks.
  • Inspect the battery and battery cables for corrosion, cracks, and dirt. Have it tested if it is near the end of its warranty. Replace it if necessary.
  • Have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications.
  • Change the engine oil and filter according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. Check the coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper, and steering fluid levels.
  • Replace worn or cracked wiper blades. It not only rains in summer, but you may need them to clear dirt and debris to ensure clear visibility in dry weather.
  • Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated. Look for uneven or excessive tread wear. Have your tires rotated at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

Visit BAR’s “Consumer” tab at www.bar.ca.gov for more information on its programs, diesel vehicles, how to file a complaint, Smog Check help, and vehicle maintenance and repair.

The Car Care Council, originators of National Car Care Month, is a non-profit organization that is also dedicated to educating motorists about the importance of regular vehicle care. Visit their consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

Above: The Auto Body Inspection Program is just one of several helpful consumer programs offered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

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