Engine and cooling system

First, if you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer, get under the hood. Otherwise, visit your friendly automotive technician
Summer can worsen existing problems like pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling, since you’ll probably be driving more often. So make certain the engine is in peak condition. Check the cooling system, too. Coolant should be flushed and refilled every 2 years or so. Have your technician check your A/C system and make sure it’s up to speed and cooling properly.

Oil Change & Rotate the Tires

Check the owner’s manual to see if your driving habits are considered to be “severe service” (most of us city drivers drive under ‘severe conditions’ by definition).  This type of driving requires more frequent oil changes. Have the oil changed according to the owner’s manual, usually every 3-5,000 miles. For less wear and tear on older engines, there are excellent high mileage oils available that help with older engine ailments.

Most cars should get the tires rotated every 6,000 miles or so. Have the tech check your tires for abnormal wear and alignment or suspension issues. The costs are minimal and the benefits are huge…you’ll get the best mileage from your tires.

Four other “Go – Do’s” for your car

The battery, belts, hoses and air filters are other “must check” items. Any good shop (Family Tire and Automotive) can check these for just about nothing. These should be examined using a professional eye with professional equipment (i.e.Family Tire and AutomotiveService). Belts and hoses (rubber compounds) wear out over time. Don’t want a “side-of-the-road” break down on nasty hot day do we? Replace dirty engine air and cabin air filters…let’s you and your car breathe and function better. Make sure the battery is holding a good charge and the charging system is working up to speed.

Exterior Concerns—Tires and Lights

Now for the outside of the vehicle: tires, lighting and wipers.

Both tire tread and tire pressure should be checked weekly.Lights should be inspected regularly. Check to see that bulbs are illuminated, and headlights are properly aimed. Finally, replace wiper blades every six months. Consider special snow blades if the weather dictates.

Emergencies

Even the most meticulously maintained vehicle can develop problems on the road, especially during hot, cold or any inclement weather. That’s when it pays to be prepared for an emergency. Use all that big trunk space for something more than a spare tire (which, incidentally should be checked regularly for properly inflation).

Roadside Emergency Package:

Pack items that would be needed if you got stranded for a several hours or just for convenience:

  • A cell phone (with a car charger),
  • flashlight,
  • flares/emergency triangle/ribbon,
  • small tool kit,
  • bottled water,
  • non-perishable snacks,
  • needed medication,
  • washer fluid,
  • extra clothes,
  • light to medium jacket(s),
  • spare tire changing gear (Fix-a-flat but use it only in a pinch—that stuff is not good for wheels or techs to work with!), etc.