Is Your Vehicle Ready for Summer?

Think about how much time we spend in our cars driving our kids – these family vehicles should be kept in tip-top shape. Auto maintenance and our family’s safety is of utmost importance. Our little ones deserve no less.

From the day that I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I instantly had a new perspective on car safety. I had one of those “baby on board” signs to announce to the world that I would do anything to protect my child, and that I hoped other drivers would not take any risks while driving near me. Becoming a mom had made me hyper-aware of my vehicle’s safety, performance and condition.

Caring for your vehicle is not a gender-specific task. Everyone should know the basics of maintaining one of their largest financial and personal safety investments. I have always lived with a mechanic in my family, so I was fortunate to receive a basic education on vehicle safety, maintenance and common sense daily care. I heard so many work stories from my grandfather, father, step-father and ex-husband about what happens when people don’t maintain their cars, that I was very aware of the importance of proper car care.

Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, recommends following your vehicle service schedule as directed in your owner’s manual, and performing the most common routine maintenance procedures to keep your vehicle performing at its best:

  • Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  • Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons.
  • Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades.

Be sure to fully inspect your vehicle annually, including performing a tune-up and wheel alignment. If you ever suspect there is a problem, it’s a good idea to address it quickly before minor repairs become more complicated, expensive repairs.

Larry, the mobile mechanic in Mount Shasta, agrees, saying, “The best thing you can do for your vehicle is find a mechanic you trust and have them do a bumper-to-bumper inspection before any long road trip. Follow your vehicle’s maintenance requirements, and let your vehicle’s engine run for two minutes before driving, no matter what the weather.”

With Larry’s 43 years of experience, he reminds us that the oil in our engine serves three crucial purposes; coolant, lubricant and cleaner. It’s important to always check the oil level before long trips, and especially once your vehicle has more than 100,000 miles. “As a vehicle ages it is common to burn a little more oil and those levels need to stay optimal in order for long term preservation of your engine,” Larry says. “Nowadays, you never see any hoods open at gas stations -– which means no one is routinely checking their fluid levels.” It’s a sign of the times since the full-service gas station has become a rare find. But it is no less important now to be sure you keep watch for any unknown leaks, or fluid evaporation, since engine parts need lubrication and hydration as much as people do.

Your tires need extra special attention. Les Schwab Tire Centers offer Pre-Trip Safety Checks. Summer tires are recommended for high performance and provide excellent dry and wet traction along with precise handling. All tire pressures should be checked at least once a month, including your spare tire. Low tire pressure can be expensive in terms of; lost fuel economy, decreased handling, higher risk of tire failure and prematurely worn tires. Make sure your tires are aligned to avoid damage and to experience a smooth drive.

Les Schwab also reminds us before summer car trips to check for any vehicle recalls and to verify that our roadside assistance policy is current. Charge your phone and don’t forget your phone’s car charger. Carry a first aid kit, flashlight, and extra water in case you are stranded in extreme heat. Be prepared for any long road delays with extra diapers, kids’ games, bag of snacks, and pet items including; water bowl, spare leash and treats.

DMV.org recommends that if you are towing a boat or camper this summer, before you hook on and drive off for a vacation destination, make sure you have inspected your car and trailer. Whenever you are towing, it is a good idea to develop a pre-trip inspection habit. Look over the brakes and lights on both your car and trailer. Carefully go over the hitch to be sure it is secure and has safety chains attached. After driving for a few hundred feet, you can pull over and check for any load shifting. Summer is a fun and liberating season. By inspecting your vehicle you can expect a more pleasant, safe and reliable warm weather driving experience.  

Resources:

  • Larry’s Mobile Auto Repair Service in Mount Shasta can be reached at
    (530) 926-0539.
  • Care Care Council offers consumer education on their website at http://www.carcare.org.
  • Les Schwab Tire Center has many North State locations or check out http://www.lesschwab.com.
  • DMV.org is a privately owned and operated website dedicated to providing users with DMV-related information. They are not affiliated with any state government agency.
Tami Graham
About Tami Graham

Tami Graham is grateful for all of the past struggles of her life because they have made her who she is today: an optimistic soul, full of compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job, and her children have been her greatest teachers.

Comment Policy: All viewpoints are welcome, but comments should remain relevant. Personal attacks, profanity, and aggressive behavior are not allowed. No spam, advertising, or promoting of products/services. Please, only use your real name and limit the amount of links submitted in your comment.


Leave a Reply