This is the perfect time of year to check your vehicle's cooling system. The cooling system of most cars requires a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze, which should be flushed once every two years. Have a technician determine if your car is ready for a system flush; this preventive maintenance step can save you from an inconvenient roadside breakdown and a big repair bill in the future.
It also is essential to make sure that your tires are properly inflated, rotated, aligned and replaced as necessary. Under-inflated tires will actually decrease your vehicle's gas mileage and shorten the life of your tires. A label on the driver's inside door jamb, glove compartment door or fuel door lists recommended tire pressures for different speeds and loads. Never use the "max pressure" number found on the sidewall of your tire.
Check your tire pressure at least monthly and always when your tires are cold (driven less than 1 mile or stationary for at least three hours).
And watch your tire tread. Worn tires can be extremely dangerous on wet road surfaces. "Wear bars" - small raised points of rubber in the grooves - will show up when tires are worn. If the tread is the same height as the wear bars, it's time for a new tire.
Trisha Hessinger, an automotive education specialist and former race car driver, is the national spokesperson for Firestone Tire & Service Centers' award-winning Car Care Academy program. For details, visit www.MasterCareUSA.com.
Be Ready For Summer Driving
* Have your vehicle checked by a certified auto technician
* Check your engine, battery, exhaust and cooling systems
* Keep fluids filled
* Maximize fuel efficiency by checking tire air pressure monthly
* Watch tire tread depth for fuel efficiency and driving safety
* Have your tires rotated and aligned as necessary