Must-Do Summer Checks
is here almost at last.
Is your car
about keeping track of tread depth but sometimes forget to examine
their vehicles tires for signs of physical damage such
as bulges on the sidewall or rips/tears things that can be
caused by hitting a bad pothole or bumping up against a curb. Such
damage often happens during the winter months but isnt
noticed because its just too cold outside to get on your hands
and knees and take a close look at each tire. But now that its
getting warm out, its a good idea to do a walk around. Any
tire that has a bulge on its sidewall or any evidence of physical
damage should be replaced as soon as possible.
trunk undersides; the inner fenders and undercarriage are places
where winter gunk tends to accumulate. Its not just unsightly,
either. The gunk can prevent proper drainage/drying-out, which can
accelerate body rot. Caustic compounds such as road salt are also
hard on rubber seals/weatherstripping. Its a good idea to
wipe down the inner door jambs/trunk underside and run the car through
the undercarriage wash at your local automatic car wash (or you
can do it yourself with a garden hose). Door/trunk weatherstripping
will stay pliable and soft longer, too, if you wipe it down with
a rubber protectant.
your wiper blades
New wiper blades
are cheap and easy to install one of the few such things
you can say about car maintenance these days. If you live in a four
seasons climate, wiper blades should be replaced at least twice
a year once in fall and then again, in spring. Or even sooner,
if you notice theyre doing more streaking than cleaning. This
is a (usually) no-tools-required/DIY job that almost anyone can
handle. And if you dont want to handle it, the auto parts
stores that sell blades will often install them for you, free. Just
Do it now
before it gets hot. And before every repair shop in town
has a backlog of two weeks because of the vast legions of people
who discovered their ACs not working, either
and dropped off their cars for repair work. AC systems especially
on cars more than four or five years old sometimes have very
minor leaks that, over time, result in loss of refrigerant, which
results in loss of cooling power. Also, long periods of disuse such
as over the winter season can lead to other problems such as a sticky
compressor clutch (this is why its smart to run your AC a
couple of times a month for 5-10 minutes at a time during the winter
months) that wont become obvious until that first really hot
day when you turn on the AC and all you get is warm air.
So, make sure your cars AC is blowing cold now, before you
really need it and get it fixed before everyone else realizes
they need to get theirs fixed, too.
Most late model
cars have clear-plastic headlight assemblies instead
of the sealed beam glass headlights cars used to come with.
The upside is these plastic headlight assemblies look better and
(when new) usually give you better night-time illumination. The
downside is the plastic tends to yellow or become cloudy as the
car ages, and this looks bad and also reduces the effectiveness
of the lights, too. But the fix is fairly easy. Get some polish
wax and a soft rag. Use the polish wax to buff out the plastic.
It will safely remove the outer yellowed/opaque layers and restore
your headlights to like-new look and function. Specialty kits are
also available to do this job that include UV sealers to help keep
the headlights looking great (and lighting right) longer.
radiator is really a heat exchanger. Engine heat is transferred
to liquid coolant, which circulates through the radiator, where
heat is taken away by the flow of air over thin cooling fins. But
if dirt and dead bugs and leaves/debris cake onto
the radiators surface, it becomes less capable of shedding
heat. Its harder for the fan to draw air through the radiator,
which reduces its efficiency. The fix is easy and free. Just
get out your garden hose, pop the hood and with the engine
cold thoroughly hose down the radiator, paying particular
attention to the front (facing away from the engine) because thats
the section that acts as a bug-catcher and grime collector, too.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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