7 Car Care Tips for a Safe and Comfortable Summer

summer car maintenance tips

It’s officially summer in Ohio. That means average temperatures regularly climb into the 80s and beyond during the heat of the day. For Northeast Ohioans, that means lazy days at Edgewater Beach, running out for a scoop at Ebony’s or packing up the whole family for a weekend adventure at Cuyahoga National Park

While you’re soaking in the summer sun, don’t forget about your trusty ride. Thermometer-busting temps and family road trips are bound to take a toll on your car. That’s why we put together this summer car maintenance checklist to ensure a safe, comfortable and stress-free season.

Check out this list of seven (plus one bonus) summer car maintenance tips to keep you and your family cruising all season long.  

1. Start With the A/C

Your car’s air conditioning is often what makes summer drives bearable. Checking your A/C levels and functionality is a must to make sure your vehicle is ready to withstand the heat. It’s also essential for defogging your windshield on humid days, contributing to better visibility and safer driving. 

If you’ve noticed that your car doesn’t cool down as quickly or efficiently as it used to, you may be dealing with a leak or a low refrigerant level. If this is the case, it’s time to bring your vehicle in for an inspection and, if necessary, have it refilled.

2. Check Your Coolant

While A/C keeps you chill all summer, coolant keeps your engine cool as a cucumber. Soaring Ohio summer temps, along with ambient heat from the asphalt, can cause your engine to overheat. Proper maintenance before you see steam rising from under the hood is key to making sure your car’s engine stays cool all summer long. 

Checking the coolant levels regularly and topping them off as necessary helps to prevent an overheating engine. A full coolant flush every few years is highly recommended to keep the engine in tip-top shape. If you notice visible coolant leaks, your coolant warning light goes on, or your temperature gauge is reading higher than normal, take your car to the shop right away. 

It’s important to remember that adding coolant isn’t a job for everyone. It requires knowledge of your car’s specific coolant type, and handling it incorrectly can lead to severe burns. Leave this task to the trained professionals. 

Bonus: When you bring your car in for a coolant check, your trusted technician will inspect your vehicle for cooling system leaks, radiator issues, a broken water pump and other issues that could cause your engine to overheat. 

3. Swap Out Those Wiper Blades

Did you know that June is statistically the rainiest month in Ohio? Summer storms are a Midwest staple; you don’t want to be caught unprepared. Worn-out or poor-quality wiper blades can severely affect visibility during a downpour, making it difficult, and even dangerous, to navigate the roads.

If your wiper blades have seen better days (or it’s been more than a year since you swapped them out), it’s time to replace them. This will ensure a clear view of the road ahead, come rain or shine. 

4. Give Your Tires Some Love

We talk a lot about tire maintenance in the winter, and for good reason. Slippery winter weather can be hazardous without the right tires. But that doesn’t mean you get a pass on tire care during the summer. Heat affects tire pressure, which in turn affects fuel efficiency, handling and safety. 

Check your tire pressure regularly throughout the summer and look for visible signs of wear or damage. Make sure to get your tires rotated per manufacturers’ guidelines. 

Oh, and if you haven’t swapped out your winter tires for all-season ones — it’s beyond time. Winter tires have a more flexible tread that does not like summer roads. They’ll wear down quickly and cut the lifespan of your winter wheels. 

5. Take Care of Your Battery 

The humble battery is another car care component that we often pay more attention to in the winter (to our detriment). Yes, winter weather is rough on the lead-acid battery that starts your car each cold morning, but summer temps can take their own toll. High temperatures accelerate the rate at which the battery fluid evaporates, which can lead to corrosion and impaired performance.

Regularly check your battery’s health, ensuring it is clean, securely mounted and that the fluid levels are correct.

6. Guard Your Car’s Exterior

According to the EPA, the UV index values in Ohio in July are four times higher than in December. For people, that means it’s time to slather on the SPF 30 before heading outdoors — but cars also need protection from UV rays.

Washing and waxing your car regularly throughout the summer can prevent things like fading, cracking and dulling of the exterior paint and rubber components. 

7. Keep it Clean

Summer typically means more outdoor activities, which can lead to more dirt, dust, pollen and grime being tracked into your car. Cleaning it out regularly can help keep the interior of your car pleasant and comfortable. 

You’re also likely to be blasting the A/C. The air conditioning system pulls air from the outside, which passes through the air filters. Dust, pollen, and grime can accumulate over time. If the filters are clogged, it could affect the efficiency of the air conditioning system and the air quality inside the car.

Regular car cleaning, both inside and out, can help maintain your car’s health throughout the summer months.

BONUS TIP: It’s Always the Right Time for Scheduled Maintenance! 

If you don’t yet have a routine maintenance schedule in place, now’s as good a time as any. Aligning important maintenance tasks like oil changes, brake checks and tire rotations around the changing seasons is smart. 

As the weather warms, a routine maintenance visit will ensure everything — from tailpipe to headlights — is in top shape for a safe and comfortable summer. 

See You Next Season

As you roll through your Ohio summer, it’s worth noting that car care and maintenance isn’t a one-season affair. It’s a year-round commitment that significantly contributes to your vehicle’s health and lifespan — not to mention your safety. 

Up Next: Everything You Need to Know About Your Car’s Exhaust System

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