Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but car care doesn’t take a vacation between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The warmer months present some challenges to personal transportation and maintenance, but this list will help us all have a summer we can enjoy. Here are a few tips to keeping your car — and its passengers — in good shape this summer.
Keeping cool is paramount, not just for ourselves but also for our cars. In addition to checking the level of coolant fluid in your car, go the extra mile and inspect the state of the hoses and the coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, such as where a hose connects to the engine block. Also, squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) every once in a while to make sure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft.
- If possible, avoid driving during the hottest time of day (12 noon – 3 p.m.)
- Keep dash and leather upholstery conditioned with protective products
- Check your car’s coolant level and fill promptly if low
- Use a windshield sun shade Consider tinted windows (this may not be legal in all states, so check first)
- If your car lives outside, consider a reflective car cover
There is usually a serpentine belt that runs between the alternator, the fan and several other components. It can deteriorate, become loose, start to squeal, and sometimes just break for no apparent reason. It needs to be in good condition and at the right amount of tension. If you see cracks in the belt or small pieces missing, it’s time to replace the belt.
Yes, it’s summer, but it’s probably going to rain at some point. Worn wipers create nasty streaks across the windshield and can affect your vision while driving. Replacing them doesn’t cost much, but it can be a fiddly operation. If you’re in the habit of taking your car in for oil changes, ask them about the wipers, too. Contact our parts department to get the perfect wipers for your Toyota. Call us at 208.378.9000 or visit our online Parts Center.
If you have a sunroof, open it up when you first get in a hot car. Since heat rises, the sunroof is the best way to let built up heat escape until the AC cools down the cabin.
Consider opening the windows, just a bit, while parked. Even half an inch can significantly help ventilation while the car is parked for long periods.
Other Essential Fluids
Check oil, brake, power-steering and windshield-washer fluids regularly. These liquids never stop being used and consumed. Speaking of brake fluid, how do the brakes on your car feel in general? Are they lacking in bite? Feeling a bit spongy? If so, new pads and a system bleed might be required. This is the kind of maintenance you should have your mechanic or dealership take care of.
Air-conditioning is a summer essential. If the system hasn’t been working properly but wasn’t really a pressing issue over the winter, now’s the time to get serious. If it’s an older system, then leaking Freon into the atmosphere is not good. There are plenty of leak-sealing products and refrigerant rechargers available from hobbyist stores and even places like Walmart. Remember, if there’s not enough refrigerant in the system, you have a leak. Have a qualified mechanic fix the leak before paying to have the air-conditioning system recharged.
The winter’s decomposing leaves may be clogging up drainage points, windshield-washer nozzles or your car’s air filter. Now might be a good time to buy a new one or take the current one out and give it a cleaning. Many modern cars also have pollen filters or cabin filtration systems, so take a look at those, too. Sometimes these cabin filters are easy to change yourself. Like everything else mentioned here: When in doubt, consult a qualified technician.
Tires really need to be checked regularly all year round. Pressures must be correct (consult the manual because sometimes that information is on the inside of the fuel door or the door jamb for the driver’s door), treads should be free of stones, stray nails and the like, and all four should be in good condition. Good condition means no cracks, no uneven wear (this might be caused by a suspension problem) and plenty of tread depth. Since summer is a time for road trips, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a can of Fix-A-Flat that could at least get you to a shady spot where you could change the wheel more comfortably. The spare obviously needs to be usable, too. Peterson Toyota has dedicated staff to assist you with your tire needs.
Here are five reasons to buy tires from a Toyota dealer:
The right tires for your Toyota model
Toyota tire price match guarantee
Expert installation by factory-trained technicians
All major brands, including BFGoodrich, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin, Yokohama, and more
Road hazard coverage included on eligible tires
Clean the Outside:
Grime and dirt get baked onto your car faster in hot weather. So keep it clean with frequent washing. Keep a bottle of bug and tar removal solution handy. You’re sure to find dried tar, bird droppings, and bugs on your bumpers, doors, and side panels. The quicker you clean things off, the less likely they’ll leave a permanent mark. Also, dry your windows with newspaper. This avoids streaking and makes good use of the paper.
Clean The Inside:
In a similar manner, the interior should be kept clean. Make a habit of doing a quick scan of the interior. Gum, crayons, or candy left in the car can melt and ruin your seats or carpet. Also, containers with liquids or sunscreen may pop open or burst if the temperature becomes hot enough.
Driver and Passengers
It’s hot out there. Make sure everyone’s hydrated. It’s better to make a few more bathroom breaks and stretch your legs than to end up cranky and fatigued. Plan road trips as if you were a general marching against an opposing army. Make a list of everything you’re going to need. For example: sunglasses, hats, travel mugs, games for the kids, snacks, chargers for the phones and tablets, route planner, weather forecasts, emergency triangle, flashlight and a small tool kit. If a scheduled service is coming up, think about getting it done before a long drive. It’s also wise to make sure your insurance and driving license are up to date. Have a great summer, enjoy the roads, and take care of yourself and your car.