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HomeCar Insurance ResourcesSummer car maintenance checklist and tips

Summer car maintenance is important in Canada to ensure that your vehicle is prepared for the warmer weather conditions. Here are some key maintenance tasks to consider:

  1. Check the cooling system: Ensure that the cooling system is in good working order, as the summer heat can put extra strain on it. Check the coolant level and condition, and inspect the radiator, hoses, and belts for any signs of leaks or damage.
  2. Check the tires: Monitor your tire pressure regularly, as higher temperatures can cause tire pressure to increase. Make sure the tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, inspect the tire tread for wear and consider rotating or replacing tires if necessary.
  3. Check the air conditioning system: Ensure that your vehicle’s air conditioning system is working efficiently. If you notice any issues, such as weak airflow or warm air, have it inspected and serviced if needed.
  4. Inspect the battery: Extreme temperatures can affect the performance of your car battery. Check the battery terminals for corrosion and clean them if necessary. If your battery is more than a few years old or shows signs of weakness, consider having it tested or replaced.
  5. Replace wiper blades: Summer rain showers can occur, so make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. Replace them if they show signs of deterioration or streaking.
  6. Check the brakes: Have the brakes inspected by a professional to ensure they are in good condition. Summer driving often involves more frequent braking due to increased traffic and road trips.
  7. Check and change the engine oil: Regularly check the engine oil level and quality, and change it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Clean oil helps maintain engine performance, especially during summer heat.
  8. Clean and wax the exterior: Give your car a thorough wash, including the undercarriage, to remove any salt or grime accumulated during winter. Apply a coat of wax to protect the paint from the sun’s UV rays.
  9. Check the air filter: A clogged air filter can restrict airflow to the engine and reduce fuel efficiency. Inspect the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty or worn out.
  10. Maintain proper fluid levels: Check the levels and condition of other essential fluids such as transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. Top them up or have them flushed and replaced as needed.
  11. Check the air conditioning system’s refrigerant: In hotter regions of Canada, such as southern Ontario or British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, it’s essential to ensure that the air conditioning system has the correct level of refrigerant. If you notice reduced cooling performance, have a professional inspect the system and recharge it if necessary.
  12. Protect your car from UV rays: The summer sun can be intense in Canada, so it’s crucial to protect your car’s interior and exterior from UV damage. Consider using sunshades or window visors to prevent excessive heat buildup inside the vehicle. Additionally, regularly apply a UV protectant to the dashboard, seats, and other exposed surfaces to prevent fading and cracking.
  13. Check the condition of the belts and hoses: Extreme temperature fluctuations in some Canadian regions can lead to wear and deterioration of belts and hoses. Inspect them for any signs of cracking, fraying, or leakage. Replace them if needed to avoid potential breakdowns.
  14. Inspect and clean the air intake system: The summer months often bring more dust, pollen, and debris, which can accumulate in the air intake system. Check the air filter, intake ducts, and throttle body for any blockages or dirt buildup. Clean or replace the air filter and clear any obstructions to ensure optimal engine performance.
  15. Inspect the windshield for chips or cracks: Temperature changes and road debris can cause small chips or cracks in the windshield to expand. Repair any minor damage promptly to prevent further spreading, as it can compromise the structural integrity of the glass.
  16. Check the radiator and engine cooling fans: Ensure that the radiator is free from debris and the cooling fans are functioning correctly. This is especially important if you plan on driving in regions with higher ambient temperatures or engaging in towing or heavy loads.
  17. Carry essential summer emergency supplies: Prepare an emergency kit specific to summer conditions. Include items such as extra water, sunscreen, bug spray, a flashlight, a reflective vest, and a first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to have a roadside assistance contact number readily available.
  18. Verify the condition of the spare tire: Ensure that the spare tire is properly inflated and in good condition. It’s essential to have a reliable spare tire, especially during summer road trips when distances between service stations can be significant.
  19. Check the cabin air filter: The cabin air filter helps maintain clean air inside the vehicle. Over time, it can get clogged with dust, pollen, and debris. Check the filter and replace it if necessary, especially if you or your passengers have allergies or respiratory sensitivities.
  20. Inspect the windshield wipers: Summer rainstorms can occur, so it’s important to have properly functioning windshield wipers. Check the wiper blades for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracking or streaking. Replace them if needed for clear visibility during rainy conditions.
  21. Test the headlights, taillights, and turn signals: Ensure all exterior lights are working correctly. Clean any dirt or debris from the lenses and replace any burnt-out bulbs. Proper lighting is crucial for visibility and safety, particularly during longer daylight hours in the summer.
  22. Clean and condition the leather or upholstery: If your vehicle has leather seats or upholstery, clean and condition them regularly to prevent drying and cracking caused by the summer heat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate cleaning and conditioning products.
  23. Inspect the exhaust system: Have the exhaust system checked for any leaks or damage. Winter conditions in Canada can be harsh, and road salt and debris can accelerate corrosion. A damaged exhaust system can affect fuel efficiency and emit harmful gases, so it’s important to address any issues promptly.
  24. Check the spare tire jack and tools: Ensure that your spare tire is accompanied by a functioning jack and the necessary tools for changing a tire. Verify that everything is in good condition and easily accessible in case of an emergency.
  25. Consider an air conditioning system service: If you notice reduced cooling performance or unusual odors coming from the air conditioning system, it may require servicing. A professional technician can inspect and service the system, ensuring it operates efficiently during hot summer days.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific maintenance recommendations and intervals. If you’re unsure about any maintenance tasks, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional mechanic.

How to protect the car in summer

To protect your car during the summer, here are some tips:

  1. Park in the shade: Whenever possible, park your car in the shade to minimize exposure to direct sunlight. This helps reduce interior heat buildup and prevents damage to the paint, dashboard, and other components from UV rays.
  2. Use sunshades or window visors: If you cannot park in the shade, use sunshades on the windshield and window visors on the side windows to block out some of the sun’s rays. This helps keep the interior cooler and protects upholstery, dashboards, and electronics from heat damage.
  3. Regularly wash and wax your car: Washing your car regularly during the summer helps remove dirt, dust, and road grime that can damage the paint. Additionally, applying a coat of wax helps protect the paint from UV rays and adds a layer of defense against environmental elements.
  4. Clean the undercarriage: Road salt, sand, and debris from winter can accumulate underneath the car, leading to corrosion and rust. Clean the undercarriage regularly during the summer to remove these elements and prevent long-term damage.
  5. Maintain proper fluid levels: Check and maintain the levels of essential fluids in your car, including engine oil, coolant/antifreeze, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. Proper fluid levels help ensure optimal performance and prevent overheating during hot weather.
  6. Check and maintain tire pressure: Hot temperatures can cause the air inside tires to expand, leading to overinflation. Regularly check your tire pressure and ensure it’s at the recommended level. Overinflated or underinflated tires can affect handling, fuel efficiency, and tire longevity.
  7. Protect the interior: Use sunshades or tinted windows to reduce the amount of sunlight entering the car’s interior. Consider using fabric or leather protectants to prevent fading, cracking, or drying out of the upholstery. Regularly clean and vacuum the interior to remove debris and prevent odors.
  8. Check the air conditioning system: Ensure that your car’s air conditioning system is working effectively. Have it serviced if you notice reduced cooling performance, weak airflow, or strange odors. A properly functioning air conditioning system keeps you comfortable and prevents excess strain on the engine.
  9. Address minor issues promptly: Address any minor issues or strange noises you notice in your car promptly. Timely repairs and maintenance help prevent problems from worsening and potentially causing more significant damage.
  10. Follow recommended maintenance schedule: Adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle. Regularly servicing your car helps identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

By following these tips, you can help protect your car during the summer and maintain its appearance, performance, and longevity.

Driving in summer

Driving in the summer can be enjoyable, but it’s important to be aware of certain considerations to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Here are some tips for driving in the summer:

  1. Stay hydrated: During hot summer days, it’s essential to stay hydrated, especially on longer drives. Bring plenty of water with you and drink regularly to avoid dehydration and maintain alertness while driving.
  2. Check your vehicle before a long trip: Before embarking on a long journey, inspect your vehicle to ensure it’s in good condition. Check the tire pressure, engine oil, coolant levels, and other fluids. Verify that all lights, including indicators and brake lights, are working correctly.
  3. Plan your route and timing: Plan your route in advance, considering traffic patterns and potential construction or road closures. Try to avoid peak traffic hours to minimize delays and stress. Be prepared for heavier traffic during holiday weekends or popular vacation destinations.
  4. Be mindful of tire pressure: Hot weather can cause tire pressure to increase, so monitor and maintain proper tire pressure. Overinflated or underinflated tires can affect handling and traction, leading to safety risks. Check tire pressure regularly and adjust as needed.
  5. Use sunscreen and protect against glare: Apply sunscreen before driving to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Use sunglasses to reduce glare, especially during early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. A sun visor can also help block out excess sunlight.
  6. Keep your car cool: Use your car’s air conditioning system to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the vehicle. Set the temperature to a level that keeps you cool but doesn’t create a significant temperature difference with the outside environment, as sudden changes can cause fogging on the windows.
  7. Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists: In the summer, more pedestrians and cyclists are out and about. Be attentive and watch for them, especially near parks, beaches, and recreational areas. Give them sufficient space and obey all traffic laws.
  8. Be cautious on hot pavement: Hot pavement can affect tire traction. Be cautious when accelerating, braking, or turning on extremely hot roads, as it may take longer for your tires to grip the surface properly. Additionally, remember that asphalt can become soft in high temperatures, potentially causing tire tracks or damage if turned upon suddenly.
  9. Take breaks on long drives: If you’re driving long distances, take regular breaks to rest, stretch, and rejuvenate. Fatigue can impair your driving abilities, so it’s important to stay alert. Take advantage of rest stops or safe locations to stop and relax along your route.
  10. Be prepared for summer storms: Summer can bring sudden rain showers and thunderstorms. Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared with appropriate windshield wipers, functional headlights, and reduced speed when encountering wet or slippery road conditions.

Remember, always adhere to traffic laws, practice defensive driving, and stay attentive to your surroundings. By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable driving experience during the summer months.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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