How to Get Your Car Ready for Summer

How to Get Your Car Ready for Summer

After one of the harshest winters in memory, America’s northern extremities are finally starting to thaw out. Along with chirping birds and sunshine, spring has brought warmer temperatures. But just because nice weather has arrived doesn’t mean you should ignore vehicle maintenance.

For the most part things are pretty mild right now, but scorching heat is just a couple months away. With that in mind here are some important car-care tips to get your ride ready for summer.

Simple But Significant

Pep Boys LogoA lot of these suggested maintenance items are fairly simple, but neglect them at your own peril. Nobody wants to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, especially when temperatures hit triple digits.

Winter often gets a bad rap but Pep Boys director of operations Stacey Hamilton said “heat can be just as destructive as ice-cold weather.” It can lead to battery issues and the deterioration of rubber parts like belts and hoses.

Scorching-hot asphalt is another potential threat; as the thermometer climbs so can the chances of tire issues. Hamilton said, “You’re going to gain one to two pounds of pressure for every 10 degrees.” This causes the pressure inside a tire to increase, oftentimes past the manufacturer-recommended level.

Michigan RoadsOver-inflation of tires can make the center of the tread wear unevenly but that’s not all. Larry Bishop, drivability technician at Dean Sellers Ford in Troy, Mich. said over-inflated tires can degrade a vehicle’s ride quality and worse, they can lead to wheel damage.

Regions that experience all four seasons tend to have issues with potholes. Big impacts caused by these roadway imperfections can bend rims and even cause flat tires. They can also knock a vehicle’s alignment out of whack and Bishop said, “If you don’t get it checked out it’ll wear out tires fast.”

The Mitten State is notorious for its crumbling roads, but Bishop said it’s also pretty rough on cars in Michigan. To help minimize issues like these, follow the manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure and stick to it in all seasons. This information is typically found on a placard in the driver’s side door-jamb area.

When checking your tires Hamilton said it’s important to do it when they’re cool. If you’ve been driving it’s probably best to wait a few hours before testing the pressure.

SEE ALSO: How Much Air Should I Put in My Tires?

Of course electrical systems can be affected by heat and cold. Hamilton said, “[Drivers] should definitely have their battery inspected.” She also said that it’s important to make sure it’s secured properly; if the battery is sliding around in the engine compartment, it can sustain unnecessary damage.

Fancy Battery“The cooling system is very, very important. If it’s not taken care of the car will start overheating,” Bishop said.

There are different types of antifreeze on the market, plus some are sold in concentrated form while others are available pre-mixed with water. When topping up your vehicle’s cooling system pay careful attention to what kind of antifreeze you’ve purchased and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Another helpful suggestion Hamilton made was to get your undercarriage washed to remove any road salt or other detritus from the bottom of your car or truck. She also said, “Look under the hood of the vehicle and remove debris that may have accumulated,” paying special attention to the radiator, which needs unobstructed airflow.

Climate Control

Bishop said having your AC system checked out before summer hits is a good idea and something people often forget about. Don’t wait until it’s 100 degrees to discover your car’s the air conditioning isn’t working; he suggests getting it tested and repaired if necessary before extreme weather hits.

Of course cosmetics count, too. “A good coat of wax is going to help protect the paint in the heat,” Hamilton said. If your vehicle has leather trim it’s also a good idea to treat the material with conditioners to keep it from cracking. This is good advice in both summer and winter.

Better Safe Than Sorry

ThermometerIn case the unexpected does happen, Hamilton recommends keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. She said road flares, a phone charger and some extra windshield-washer fluid can be life savers. Likewise it’s smart to have a tire inflator handy; products like Fix-a-Flat or Slime can get you on the road again in an emergency, which beats walking or having to wait for a tow truck.

Beyond these items Hamilton also recommended keeping a first aid kit in the trunk and said “a couple bottles of water are great in the summer time.”


Some of these maintenance suggestions are best left to professionals but you can still tackle a number of items yourself. Bishop said, “[Drivers] can check all the fluid levels,” though he admitted this is kind of rare these days. People used to check the oil at every fill up but he noted, “You never see anyone’s hood up at the gas station anymore.”

Tire pressure is another do-it-yourself maintenance item. It’s quick and easy to keep track of, plus pressure gauges are only a couple bucks so there’s no excuse for having over- or under-inflated tires.

The Dealership Difference

For more difficult items drivers can always go to a dealership or garage for vehicle service. “We do all types of repair and maintenance,” said Hamilton. Pep Boys also offers a variety of free services, from battery testing to wiper-blade installation to tire checks.

Saturn VModern vehicles are far more technologically advanced than the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. “These cars are getting a lot harder for ‘everyday Joes’ to work on,” Bishop said. Beyond that, automakers are extending service intervals to ever-greater lengths and they’re also eliminating some maintenance points altogether.

Bishop said the transmission dipstick has actually been removed from some models, making it almost impossible for the typical driver to check the fluid, but they don’t really have to. Sometimes parts are sealed for the life of a vehicle, requiring zero maintenance.

Given how technical today’s cars and trucks have become it’s sometimes best to take your vehicle to the dealer for service. Bishop said, “I know coming from a Ford mechanic [saying] ‘take your Ford to a Ford dealer’ is kind of expected,” but he said that some independent garages won’t have the same knowledge and experience.

“We’re constantly training,” said Bishop. Ford technicians go through web-based instruction so they’re aware of the latest procedures and vehicle updates. They even spend time in classrooms to get hands-on experience with the vehicles they service in the field. “I know these Fords inside and out; that’s what I do,” he said.

Ready, Set, Go!

Summer is just around the proverbial corner. Don’t let high temperatures leave you stranded. Get your vehicle’s air-conditioning and cooling systems checked out sooner rather than later and make certain to keep an eye on the tires. These simple steps and the other ones listed above can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Read more car care information in’s Tips and Advice section.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. * is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of, 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked