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Summertime Vehicle Maintenance Checklist for Small and Large Fleets

  • By Cesar Yepez

Planning to cover a lot of ground when the weather finally cooperates? Well, have you ever wondered what the blazing heat does to your tires or your battery? Well, no matter the number of miles you plan to travel and the temperature of your destination, there will always be something worth checking. And what better time to check than summertime?

1. Oil

It’s suggested that a car’s oil and oil filter be changed every three or so months. Otherwise, most owners’ manuals advise that you change both your oil and filter every 7,500 miles and many oil change specialists suggest every 3,000 miles. Being that a lot of driving occurs in the summer, who’s to say what will require the change first: time or distance. Either way, it’s an essential, regular step in car maintenance at any time of the year and summer is no exception!

2. Air Conditioning

While the repair of an air conditioning system should be left to a professional, it’s up to you to detect the problem. Typically, the malfunction can usually be accredited to a low level of refrigerant, which can be determined fairly easily. In order to tell if your air conditioner has an issue, you need to check and see if it can generate or maintain air temperatures that are 50 degrees Fahrenheit below the outside air temperature. While that may seem excessive, you won’t regret it when the heat starts to rise.

3. Windshield Wipers

Your windshield wipers work hard in the winter, with the constant freezing and thawing and scraping. If your wipers leave visible streaks or take multiple tries to help clear your visibility, they should be replaced. Hopefully in time for those summer thunderstorms!

4. Tire Pressure

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, your tire pressure changes with the rising heat at a rate of approximately one to two pounds per square inch with every 10-degree increase in the outside air temperature. As both under-inflated and over-inflated tires are a safety hazard, this will likely require some consistent monitoring during the summer months.

5. Battery

An article from CBS News shares some interesting information on summer vehicle maintenance, including the fact that summer is actually more difficult on your car’s battery than those dreaded winter jump-start months. In fact, the summer heat can actually speed up the chemical reaction inside the battery, causing it to be overcharged and drastically shorten the lifespan of your battery. Not to mention that the internal battery fluid itself can evaporate!

6. Hoses and Belts

For such seemingly small pieces of the whole, you would be surprised to know how important both belts and hoses are to summer driving. As the point is to keep your car cool, you should know that many of those hoses connect to the radiator in order to help pump coolant to and from the engine block, with the belts running the fan to help cool your system even more. So look for cracks and loose connections and leaks and tears – check, check, check!

7. Air Filter

Often dirtied in the winter by road-salts and the like, it’s very important to make sure that your air filter is clean come summer. Without a clean air filter your fuel efficiency can go way down, however, with a clean filter your gas mileage can improve by as much as ten percent.

8. Coolant and Radiator

It makes logical sense that the hottest months of the year would be the hardest on your cooling system. It would then make sense to have the summer be the time you pay the most attention to it too then. Where a well-tuned cooling system can take long idles and drives in hot weather, one with low coolant levels in need of antifreeze or with a damaged fan belt just might overheat.

9. Brakes

While summer itself might not be terribly hard on your vehicle’s brakes they are still absolutely essential to the driver’s safety, not to mention the safety of everyone else. That’s why their maintenance is just as important as all the rest of the items on this list. For fleets both large and small, for temperatures both cold and hot, always watch your breaks!

10. Summer-ize

Finally, de-winterize! Change out your snow tires. Clean off the underbelly of your vehicle. Check the tread on your new tires. Dust off your lights and your grimy license plate cover. Give it a bath! After all, with nice weather comes great responsibility.

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