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to Get Your Car Ready to Cruise into Summer
the summer approaches, you may be thinking of taking your car out
for a long leisurely cruise or a family vacation. Though you may not
realize it, winter has been hard on your car. Your carís body is
not looking its best. Itís been exposed to road salt and ice, acid
rain, air pollution, and ultra-violet light. All of these factors
are damaging and may contribute to a breakdown, not to mention
accelerating the aging (and the value) of your car. Before you find
yourself stranded at the side of the road, there are a few simple
things you can do to help avoid problems.
HOSES AND BELTS. These items are vital
for the operation of the engine. The hoses flow the coolant through
the car to keep the engine cool, and the belts run the fan to bring
air in and keep the coolant cold. If a hose breaks or disconnects,
your radiator will run dry. The result? Your car will overheat and
die. Ditto if the belts break. So check the hoses for cracks or
splits. When rubber ages, it becomes soft, so touch them to see if
they are spongy ó they should feel hard and firm. Also check the
o-ring connectors to make sure they are secure. If they are loose,
the hoses may disconnect. In terms of the belts, do a visual check.
If you see the fabric coming through the housing of the belts,
itís time to replace them.
RADIATOR AND COOLANT LEVEL.
First check for leaks in the radiator ó look under your parked car
for any suspicious puddles where the radiator is. Then check the
radiator cap and make sure itís on tight. There is an o-ring under
the cap to help seal the cap to the radiator, so make sure its
rubber is not aging. But remember: ALWAYS CHECK THIS WHEN THE CAR IS
NOT RUNNING. Make sure it has been sitting for a while and has
cooled down. Otherwise, you could receive a nasty burn if all the
hot steam comes rushing out at you. To check the coolant level, all
you have to do is look. There is an overflow reservoir which has
marks on it to show the level of coolant.
OIL. Check by looking at the dipstick.
Make sure your car is parked on a level surface. The engine should
be warm, so let it run for a few minutes, then turn the engine off
and check. Not only should you look at the level of the oil, but
also see if the oil is dirty. If it is dark instead of a bronze or
golden color, then you need to change the oil. Oil needs to be clean
to keep dirt particles out of the engine.
BATTERY. You may think that
battery failures only happen in the extreme cold, but extreme heat
is more brutal on a car battery. Heat speeds up chemical reactions,
which can burn out the battery and prevent it from producing
current. That translates into a dead car. So check to see if there
is corrosion on the battery terminals. If so, clean it off with a
rag ó a dirty connection will prevent electricity from flowing.
Make sure the battery cable connections and the ground wire are
tight. If the connection is not good, you may find yourself
stranded. If your battery is old, it may not be fully charged. Take
it to any service station and in around ten minutes, they can do a
TIRES. Check the pressure in
each of your tires at least once a month. Your ownerís manual will
tell you what the recommended pressure is. If a tire is under
inflated on a hot summer day, it is handling a heavier load. When
tires work harder, they create more friction with the road, which
builds up more heat. This can put stress on a tire and possibly
cause blowouts and tread separation. If youíve ever experienced
this ó your car
suddenly careening out of control at 60 mph across a four lane
highway ó you already know this is a life threatening situation.
Most flat tires are actually caused by the wrong pressure in the
Also check the tread.
If it is worn down, you will have less traction on the road. In a
rainstorm, this may translate to hydroplaning ó you are literally
driving on water instead of on the road ó and you are liable to
loose control of your car. An easy way to check the tread is to take
a penny and put it in the tread of the tire. If Lincolnís head
disappears, your tread is good.
Donít forget to check
out your spare tire too.
To be completely
thorough, replace filters, windshield wipers and blades, fill up on
windshield washer solvent, and inspect your lights and bulbs.
Replace burned-out bulbs and clean all lenses ó dirty lights make
it harder for you to see the road and for other drivers to see you.
Take care of your car,
and it will take care of you. Neglect it, and you may end up with a
migraine as you wait on the side of the road for a tow truck.
Issues for Cars & Drivers
Up for Two -Your
baby's first ride is in your womb. Tips to make sure she
Safely with Disabilities -People
all across America are driving with disabilities requiring
Tips About Child Restraints-Part 2 -continuation of car
Tips About Child Restraints-Part 3 -final chapter of the
car seat series.
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