Prepping Your Car for Late Summer in Southern Mississippi
Even if you're diligent about keeping up with your vehicle's maintenance, it's tempting to put off small jobs until the weather cools. Just driving to the mechanic and dropping it off can seem like a sweat-inducing chore on the hottest days of August.
With record heat scorching the Gulf Coast by early June this year, many of our vehicles may already be limping along, begging for a bit of attention in late summer. Fortunately, keeping the wheels turning doesn't require more than a five-minute check-up, and there's no need to climb underneath your car.
Even if your vehicle seems to be running just fine, the added stress of summer temperatures has likely taken its toll. Help ensure that you don't encounter greater problems down the road by running through this simple checklist before heading down the road for that weekend trip to Pascagoula or Pass Christian.
Oil Keeps Your Engine Cool
Believe it or not, that hot oil in your engine actually serves to cool the piping hot metal components pumping back and forth under your hood. Fall just a quart short of proper levels and your engine can run 20 percent hotter than it would at proper levels. That leads to faster wear-and-tear of engine components and bigger problems down the road. Oil is easy to check -- just pull the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert, and pull again to check the level. If it's low, add half a quart and check again. Repeat if necessary.
Coolant Dissipates Heat
When you're running your car or truck down Highway 90 in mid-August, the temperatures under your hood are bound to be far beyond comfort. The hotter the day, the harder your car works to keep cool. Coolant collects your engine's heat before flowing through the radiator, which spreads the heat out and re-cools the coolant. At peak temperatures, the coolant can near water's boiling point before hitting the radiator. Make sure you've got enough coolant to do the job -- with your engine cool, pop open the radiator cap and check that fluid levels in the reservoir reach the fill level. If the coolant looks rusty or dirty, drain it and refill.
Batteries Get You Started
Although chilly winter temperatures can slow a battery down, summer can be even more brutal. When the electrolyte solution in your battery evaporates, it causes corrosion in the battery that can ultimately cause it to die. Most batteries have removable caps on top where you can check the fluid level. Add distilled water to the fill line (don't overfill) to make sure your battery is hydrated and ready to store the power to get you moving.
Tires Keep You Rolling
Blowing a tire on the highway can be a terrifying experience, but it's often preventable by simply keeping an eye on their tread. If yours have worn down or separated, it's time to get replacements. Equally important are inflation levels. Keep a pressure gauge in your glove box and check your levels once a week. Under-inflated tires will increase rolling resistance, encouraging internal heat to build up and ultimately lead to blowouts on the road.
August and September are perhaps the best time of year to hit the beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Head out with confidence by taking a few minutes to check on your car's most basic vital signs, and have fun out there!
John Egan is managing editor of Car Insurance Quotes, a leading online provider of Car Insurance News.