The classic Summer Tuneup is an anachronism. In the days of the points, plugs and condenser service, your mechanic did act as musician, adjusting this and tweaking that until your car sang a sweet song. Now, though, the tune up has been replaced by mileage-based service. Fuel injectors and on-board diagnostics have replaced carburetors and your mechanic’s magic touch. Car maintenance is today built more around prevention, since performance adjustments are handled around the clock by your car’s computer.

So preparing for the summer road trip may have less to do with the season and more to do with the kilometers you’ve put on your car. Check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for your current mileage and address the regular maintenance suggested. On top of that, though, there are some checks and preparations you can make on your own time that with improve your chances for a trouble-free summer of driving.

Rate the Rubber

Any rubber product on your vehicle has a useful life and it will deteriorate over time. It’s a good idea to check what you can and either address it yourself or bring it to your shop’s attention. Wiper blades, for example, are inexpensive and easy to change, so if a heavy rain has your windshield streaking, take a trip to your local auto parts place and spend 15 minutes on a sunny day clearing your vision.

Tires are next on the list. If you don’t have your own tire pressure gauge, pick one up when you get the wipers. Check your tire pressure regularly when the tires are cold. Don’t use the PSI rating embossed in the tires without checking the manufacturer’s recommendation, available in the owner’s manual or on a chart near the latch mechanism on the driver’s door. While you’re checking the pressure, give your tires a once-over for damage, cracking and foreign objects stuck in the tread.

If you’re a little more ambitious, take a look at the belts and hoses under the hood. Pass on anything you see to your shop for their opinion.

Keep Your Fluids Up

Brake fluid

Regular visits to your shop should address the really important systems, so you are checking things you may never find a problem with. Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security though. Catching a leak at an early stage can save you money on major repairs later. Fluids to check include:

  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant

The Summer Tuneup Human Touch

While you may never need it, an emergency kit for your car is a good idea. While you don’t need emergency warmth protection as you do in winter, a blanket is still a versatile supply. Other things to pack are a first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries and a basic tool kit. Pack water and snacks such as granola bars or other foods with a longer shelf life and keep these emergency rations separate from the trip snacks.

Be patient. There are many more people on the road in the summer, enjoying Canada as you are. That means traffic and delays. Prepare for the worst so that what you get is less likely to disappoint. The Canada Safety Council has reminders for trouble-free summer driving.