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Car Maintenance >> Spring-Summer

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Summer?

(ARA) - With Summer just around the corner, it's not too early to begin thinking about hot weather driving and even that long-awaited vacation trip with the family. Whether you will drive cross-country or merely across town, it makes sense to take a few minutes now to assess the condition of your car or truck.

A mechanical breakdown in the middle of nowhere is no fun regardless of the time of year, and in some cases can be downright dangerous. Taking the time now to check the condition of your vehicle could be the difference between a hassle-free trip and the vacation from hell.

If you live where it snows, you know what snow, ice, loose gravel and salt can do to your car. Minor scratches and nicks turn to rust, the radiator can be corroded without your knowledge, and your windshield is subjected to the extremes of interior heat and exterior cold. All of these factors, and more, have an effect on your car when the weather turns from winter cold to summer heat.

Windshield Safety

If your windshield has a rock chip or ding at winter's end, that damage needs to be repaired before "thermal shock" causes the minor ding to turn into a major crack. Thermal shock can occur when cold air from the air conditioning blows directly on a windshield that is scalding hot from exposure to the summer sun.

Repairing a small ding costs as little as $50 to $60. Replacing a cracked windshield can cost hundreds of dollars; on some cars, the cost may be even higher. "Once a ding or star (a star-shaped chip with points spreading out) expands, windshield replacement is often the only option," said Leo Cyr, vice president for marketing at NOVUS Windshield Repair.

"If the damage is reported quickly, the odds are much improved that the windshield can be saved", says Cyr. "It is important to perform the repair before dirt infiltrates into the break. If you can't get the repair done right away, call your local NOVUS dealer for a windshield saver patch. These patches cover the break until it can be repaired but do not obscure your vision."

NOVUS, with more than 20 million repaired windshields under its belt, follows a "repair when possible and replace when necessary" philosophy. The company invented windshield repair in 1972 and has pioneered numerous innovations in the field.

To attain optimum consumer safety, Cyr recommends repairing a windshield whenever possible, instead of replacing it. Repair not only saves the windshield, it preserves the factory's seal of windshield to auto body. "Since passenger-side air bags deploy off the windshield, preserving the factory installation is an important safety consideration," explains Cyr. "Keeping the factory's original adhesive set also helps avoid air and water leaks."


Checking fluids is the least expensive and most important preventive maintenance you can do. Oil should be changed frequently (every 3,000 to 5,000 miles) if you haul heavy loads or drive in stop-and-go traffic.

Remember to flush your radiator and change your engine coolant every two years. Summer is extremely hard on a car's cooling system, so inspect your radiator for obvious signs of corrosion or leaking. If in doubt, have your mechanic check the radiator core to ensure it is not plugged or at risk of imminent failure.

Make sure you also check and fill to recommended levels other fluids integral to your vehicle's performance. These fluids include: power steering, transmission, brake, radiator and battery.

Don't forget to top off windshield washer fluid. Every driver knows the importance of windshield washer fluid but sometimes we forget to check until we need it most … and then it's too late.

Batteries and Corroded Cables

Summer heat can wreak havoc on an older battery. The average life of a battery is 31/2 years. If your battery is nearing that age, or older, than it's probably ready to be replaced. Have a mechanic check the battery and cables to ensure your car starts quickly and reliably.

Anything Made of Rubber

Worn, bald or badly aligned or balanced tires can mean accidents. Be sure to check your owner's manual for the recommended tire pressure, too. Tire pressure is critical in summer, especially when carrying heavy loads.

Tire pressure should be checked and air added when the tires are cold (driven a short distance). Remember, tire pressure increases one pound for every 10-degree increase in temperature. If you inflate your tires to the maximum pressure indicated on the tire sidewall, you risk tire failure from over-inflation, especially if the tire is worn or damaged.

If traveling in remote areas, it may even be wise to carry a full-size spare tire instead of a temporary emergency spare, or donut, as they are sometimes called. Temporary emergency spares usually have a 50-to-100 mile life expectancy, which may be inadequate for long trips.

Rubber parts under your hood need maintenance, too. Radiator, heater and vacuum hoses, among others, should be checked for cracks and bulges. Take a roll of duct tape with you on your trip; it can be a life saver in fixing hoses.

Also, inspect all belts for damage and splits.


Front-wheel drive vehicles equipped with CV (constant velocity) joints should have the boots checked for rips and cracks. Boots protect CV joints, but when the joints are exposed to salt, ice and snow, they can damage the joint. Replacing a joint can costs hundreds of dollars, but replacing a boot costs a small fraction of that.

Spark Plugs

Worn or misfiring spark plugs can affect how efficiently a vehicle burns the fuel/air mixture, ultimately affecting engine performance. Worn spark plugs waste gas and increase exhaust emissions, so have them checked and replaced as needed.


Don't postpone needed brake work. It's dangerous to drive with poorly performing brakes. Postponing brake service also can cause the cost of overhauling your brake system to skyrocket.


Check your lights and turn signals for safety's sake.

Be Prepared

Before you leave on your trip be sure to pack extra radiator coolant, several quarts of oil, safety flares and whatever tools you might need. It is better to be prepared than sorry. If properly maintained, your vehicle will provide years of service with better performance and safety.

For more information or to locate the nearest NOVUS, call (800) 77-NOVUS (800-776-6887) or visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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