No one wants to be stranded on a roadside in winter. Aside from the pure inconvenience of it all, freezing temperatures mean real danger.
Perhaps for that reason, it seems much more common to talk about how to winterize a vehicle than to properly prepare it for summer.
Summer? What could go possibly go wrong in the summer when the biggest problem is forgetting your beach towel at home?
Well, the two seasons put different demands on a vehicle. So emergency situations require you to bring different items to ensure your safety.
It’s not too late to go through this checklist.
1) Antifreeze kept the liquid that circulates through the engine from turning into a block of ice. For the summer, we need enough liquid to prevent our engines from overheating on hot days while stuck in traffic or while towing a trailer. Make sure the coolant is at the right level to prevent overheating and a possibly roadside emergency. If it needs changing, change it. It’s also essential to test the vehicle’s air conditioning system to be sure it’s functioning well. You don’t want to be stuck with an overheated vehicle and overheated passengers.
2) If you were using an oil of a thinner viscosity for the cold months, make sure it’s changed back to the correct grade for summer. Oil thins out when it’s heated and during the summer you don’t want it to become too thin. Regardless, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper grade and change the oil — if you haven’t already — to get any sediment or condensation that collected in the oil over the winter.
3) Auto manufacturers recommend changing air filters regularly; this is a great time to do that. Allow your engine to enjoy that fresh summer air through a new filter. Your wallet will also gain a little pleasure because an engine that can breathe is more fuel-efficient.
4) Since it’s cold in the winter and the sun’s ultraviolet rays are weaker, protecting the interior generally isn’t an issue. In the summer, though, it’s important to treat dashboards and leather/rubber/vinyl surfaces with the appropriate protectant to prevent fading and cracking. Also, you might want to buy a sun shield for the windshield (and buy window shades for the back windows). You might feel it cramps your style a little, but trust me, it’s worth it since the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard (as in it takes less time) to get the cabin temperature under control.
5) If you have a winter emergency kit containing things like a window scraper, leather gloves, deicing fluid, snow chains or a heavy blanket, there is no sense lugging those items around in the summer. Replace the winter kit with summer essentials: sunscreen (how many times have you burned your left arm leaving it hanging out the window?); bug spray; water; a bag of trail mix; good walking shoes and socks; and a light jacket/sweater and pants. Put it all in a backpack as you never know when you’ll need them.
6) Properly detailing and waxing our vehicles is one of the most important things we can do to preserve the paint and keep up resale value. Now’s the time to get a full detail job. You can do this yourself, but if time is tight, a competent shop will take care of business with the know-how and the right products and equipment. Now’s the time to reapply undercoatings and fix any nicks or scratches.
This is just the short list of duties. Summer is lazy time and it will be if you take care of your vehicle.
Among her numerous accomplishments, Courtney Hansen is the author of her own book, the host of Spike TV’s “Power Block,” the former host of TLC’s Overhaulin’ and a writer with Wheelbase Media. You can email her at www.wheelbasemedia.com by clicking the contact link.