Summer is the time of year for road trips to get out of the heat! It is also the time of year that your vehicle is the most susceptible to trouble. To protect your vehicle, and keep it running optimally, there is some special maintenance that needs to be performed this time of year.
According to vehicle manufacturers, Arizona is an extreme climate, which means that cars aren’t usually engineered to drive here! “Scheduled maintenance” guidelines that are found in the owner’s manuals and that are suggested by dealers don’t take the extreme summer weather conditions found in Arizona into account- unless specifically noted. This makes getting your vehicle summer ready that much more important.
Here are 7 essential summer car care tips:
Perform Regular Oil Changes
The oil in your vehicle should be changed every 3000 miles or three months. It doesn’t take a whole lot of contaminants to harm your engine. In Phoenix, Arizona it is extremely important to stay on top of oil changes as more dust gets ingested into the intake and deposited into the oil here than it does in other climates. When dirt is in the oil it breaks down its viscosity and will eventually erode seals and piston rings if left unattended. During the monsoon season (June – September) we are prone to haboobs and minor dust storms, so changing your oil more often may be necessary, even synthetic. Make sure you are checking and changing the oil filter too, as it can only hold so much before it becomes ineffective.
Check Air Filters
Inspect and/or change the air filter at least once every other oil change. As air filters get dirty, tiny dust particles escape into the intake and find their way into the engine. Like we said above, Phoenix, Arizona is very dusty, so you will likely collect dirt more rapidly here than you would in other places.
Inspect Your Tires
Summertime in Phoenix is also blowout season. Inspect your tires every time you fill your gas tank for wear and proper inflation. The contact pad of your tires should be square and not too narrow or bulging. Make sure the tires are wearing evenly. Be cautious of over-inflation as the increased temperature (~160F) of the asphalt on the highways will increase the PSI by about 10psi. If you need new tires (replace at 3/32nds of tread remaining) you may want to consider purchasing “summer” tires. If you visit the mountains in the winter months, however, you may want to stick with all-season tires- always take your own driving habits into consideration when purchasing tires.
Make Sure the AC Functions Properly
If your vehicle’s AC is not functioning properly do not hesitate to bring it in for service. Summer temperatures are brutal in Phoenix and the AC is not just a luxury here, it is essential. The AC system is meant to be completely sealed and never leak, so if it is leaking it must be repaired asap.
Inspect the Belts and Hoses
In Phoenix, with the increased heat and minimal humidity, the belts and hoses are known to fail quickly. At every oil change, and before any long road trips, inspect the belts and hoses for wear. We suggest bringing a replacement on any road trips with you as a precaution. Make sure the belts and hoses aren’t soft, torn, cracked, or blistered. It is better for your engine, and wallet, to stay on top of them and change them before they fail.
Change Your Wiper Blades
Arizona summers bring along the monsoons. Make sure your wipers are ready to keep your windshield clear during the downpour. Wiper blades dry and crack up here more frequently than elsewhere and should be inspected when you fill the gas tank throughout the summer season.
Monitor the Radiator/Cooling System
Watch your engine temperatures and inspect for leaks. Pay close attention to it. Watch the water level to make sure it isn’t decreasing, watch the temperature of your gauges and pay attention to any strange odors. It is extremely common for cars to overheat in Arizona, and many overheating issues are related to a broken thermostat. If your vehicle overheats you need to have it inspected and diagnosed immediately. Keep a gallon of coolant and water in the vehicle for long road trips.
Remember, routine maintenance is preventative by nature. Don’t wait for a problem to prompt you into it. When you take proper care of your vehicle, it will take care of you, and routine maintenance goes a long way to avoid costly repairs. Arizona summers may be extreme conditions for vehicles to put up with, but with the above tips, your vehicle can survive it.
If you need help prepping your vehicle for the rest of summer, Virginia Auto Service is here for you. We are your go-to in Phoenix, AZ for reliable, high-quality auto repair services. Call (602) 266-0200 or schedule an appointment online.