Is Your Vehicle Ready for Summer? Here's Your Maintenance Checklist

Writing a checklist, copyright Glenn Carstens Peters

Once you make it through winter, it’s tempting to think that the hard part of car maintenance is in the past. After all, the harsh conditions that make winter driving so stressful for your vehicle are over, right? While winter weather can be rough on your car, scorching heat and high humidity bring its own set of challenges, making summer car care equally essential.

To prepare your vehicle to deal with summer conditions and prevent eye-popping repair bills later, run through this vehicle checklist before driving on those harsh summer days.

1. Check the coolant

The coolant in your vehicle's radiator works triple time in summer. In addition to keeping your car from overheating, coolant guards against corrosion and lubricates your water pump. However, coolant degrades and loses its effectiveness, so you should change out conventional coolant every one to two years, and extended life coolant every five years. Can't remember the last time you changed your coolant? No worries. Use an antifreeze tester to check the quality. This video shows you how. Then read this handy guide to learn how to flush your radiator.

2. Test the battery

Summer can be harder on a battery than winter, so bring your battery to an Advance Auto Parts store near you for free testing. If you need a new battery, remember, we'll install it for free when you purchase from us.

3. Check the A/C

Air conditioning systems have a way of quitting at the worst possible time. Take preemptive action and get your air-conditioning system checked before the summer months really heat up. Ask your trusted mechanic to run some diagnostic tests or learn to troubleshoot your A/C on your own. You can also review the basics for troubleshooting cooling system components.

4. Inspect the tires

Check the tread on your vehicle's tires. Rain-slick roads shorten stopping distances and impair maneuverability. Poor tire tread worsens both conditions, so replace your tires as needed. You should also rotate your tires and be sure to frequently check the air pressure.

Big temperature swings can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly. This can lead to inferior performance and reduced gas mileage. Make sure to check the pressure first thing in the morning. The heat of the day, and particularly driving, will inflate your tires a little and you want to check them when they’re cold.

Pro Tip

Big temperature swings can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly. This can lead to inferior performance and reduced gas mileage.

5. Check belts and hoses

Inspect your belts and hoses for evidence of damage, such as cracks, fraying, leakage, or swelling. The heat and humidity of summer will only make these conditions worse and may cause a breakdown.

6. Replace wiper blades

You'll want a sturdy set of windshield wiper blades to ensure good visibility during summer thunderstorms. Replace your blades if they're showing signs of wear, including splitting, cracking, or skipping, or if they're more than six months old.

7. Inspect the brakes

Road trips to the mountains and towing boats or trailers will put your brakes to the test this summer. Make sure they ace the exam, with a basic checkup.

What's on your summer car maintenance checklist? Leave a comment.

Last updated June 16, 2017