Are you ready for winter to be over? It’s time to plan those road trips and prepare your car for summer! In addition to stocking your car with a roadside emergency kit, here’s a list of things you should check as you get your car ready for summer. Keep reading to download a FREE printable checklist!
Clean the interior and exterior
- Go through a car wash or wash your car thoroughly yourself.
- Empty your car of trash and anything that isn’t essential. This will ensure you have plenty of room to store luggage and other essentials on road trips.
- If you would like to get your car completely deep cleaned (inside and out), it costs about $100 for a full car detail. If you don’t have a lot of extra time, spending the money to have someone else clean your vehicle may be worth it.
- Be sure to gently clean any bugs off your windshield and lights with a wet rag.
Assess the air-conditioning system
- You want your car’s air-conditioning system to be fully operational before the heat arrives. Make sure you get a professional to fully inspect your air-conditioning.
- Test your air-conditioning yourself. Turn it all the way up, see how it runs on its coldest settings.
Change the oil
- Check your manual to see how often you need to change your oil and oil filter for your car specifically.
- Be sure to dispose of oil properly.
Test the battery
- Take your battery to a mechanic to get properly tested (most mechanics will do it for free!)
- Clean batteries run more smoothly than dirty ones. Don’t be intimidated, though. With a few simple tools, you can have your battery clean in no time.
- Be sure to check your battery’s fluid levels monthly.
FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST – Getting Your Car Ready for Summer
Listen to the brakes
- Listen for any problems with your brakes, and observe how your car responds when you brake suddenly.
- Good brakes don’t make noise; they respond the same way, regardless of when you press them. If you feel or hear anything off, get your brakes checked and fixed immediately.
Check the tires
- How’s the pressure on your tires? Add pressure if necessary.
- Make sure you have a good spare tire and a jack.
- Rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or so.
- Check the tread on your tires in several spots on each tire using just a penny. Place a penny upside down in the groove of your tire. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head including his hair, it’s time for new tires!
- Educate yourself on how to drive safely through a tire blowout.
Inspect the cooling system
- Despite the fact that it’s preventable, overheating is one of the most common causes of summer breakdowns. Don’t let it happen to you!
- Flush and refill your cooling system every 24 months. Set a calendar reminder on your phone so you don’t forget!
- Check coolant levels, making sure the liquid level is hitting the FULL line. If it isn’t hitting that line, add enough 50/50 mix of water and coolant to get it there. Check out this simple video demonstrating how to check/change your coolant safely and properly.
Run the engine
- Start up your engine and listen to it. Hear any weird sounds? Does it start up quickly and smoothly or does it hesitate? Take note of any irregularities or weaknesses. A faulty engine will typically sound or act abnormally.
- Per the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, “Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.”
While this list may sound overwhelming, it’s important to not skip out or put off these summer car preparations. Pace yourself! And remember, your vehicle needs to be in top condition in order to prevent accidents and serve you well all summer long.