The summer is heating up, and that means it’s time for a road trip. But before you hit the highway, there are a few things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the highway, waiting for the tow truck because you forgot to do some basic auto maintenance.
Want someone else to get your car in tip-top shape for summer? Drop in to Mississauga Kia for a summer car tune-up. Our dealership serves Mississauga, Oakville, Milton, Brampton, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). You can book a service appointment online or phone our service department.
1. Check Your Tires
There’s more to keeping your tires in good shape than checking your tire pressure-still, that’s an important part of it. An under-inflated, over-inflated, worn, or misaligned tire can reduce your fuel economy or cause a dangerous blowout on the road. Where do you check for tire pressure? Look in your owner’s manual, or on the inside of your driver’s side door for the inflation for your vehicle. If you can’t find either of those, the sidewall of your tire may also have an inflation rating. Keep in mind that this is the maximum inflation for the tire, and it may not be suitable for your vehicle. If you find that your tire pressure is dropping regularly, you may have a slow leak. Depending on the cause of the leak, it may be able to be repaired. If the leak is coming from around your rim, you will likely need to replace your tire and your rim.
2. Change Oil and Filter
Oil is arguably the most important fluid in your vehicle. Without it, your engine couldn’t function. Proper lubrication is essential to keep your motor running efficiently, and to help your engine last in the long-term. As oil breaks down, it loses its lubricating qualities and is no longer as efficient at reducing friction. Most owner’s manuals suggest that you change your oil every 5,000 to 12,000 km, but this will vary greatly depending on the year and type of vehicle that you drive. If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, you will likely need to change your car’s oil more often.
You can also tell a lot by checking your oil. To check your oil, run your vehicle for a few minutes and then park it on a level service. Shut off the engine, wait for a couple of minutes for the oil to settle, and then open the hood and locate the oil dipstick (it usually has a yellow handle). Pull it out, wipe it off with a clean rag or paper towel, and re-insert it. When you remove it again, the oil level should be between the top and bottom lines, or in a central hash-marked. If it’s below the line, you can slowly add another quart. If it’s above the line, you should consult with a mechanic. Also look at the colour of the oil: a milky, white substance could indicate a coolant leak in your engine.
3. De-Winterize Your Car
When you first bring your car out of its winter hibernation, there are a few things you should do. Unless there’s still snow on the ground, your first order of business should be removing your winter or snow tires. Before you start up your engine, check to make sure that all of your fluid levels are good (especially oil) and look under your vehicle for any leaks. That includes windshield wiper fluid and coolant. Coolant is important, because it will protect against overheating during the hot summer months.
It’s usually a good idea to change your oil as well, given that it can collect condensation if your engine has sat over winter. This is also a good time to check your battery and see if it needs to be recharged or replaced. It’s also important to work on the outside of your car. Take it to the carwash and flush out all of that salt, mud, and grime that collected over winter. Focus on washing the undercarriage as well as just the body panels. It’s also a good idea to spray off the bottom of your engine and transmission, as any caked on dirt, mud, or oily grease will make your engine run hotter, which could cause overheating in the summer.
4. Check Hoses and Belts
Your engine needs a functioning cooling system to avoid overheating in the summer. That means it’s important that you don’t have any leaks, and that your radiator fan is working properly. Check the upper and lower radiator hoses for hairline cracks or leaks. You can also feel them to ensure that they are firm, and not overly soft or malleable. (Don’t do this when the engine is hot!) If any of these hoses break, your engine could overheat in a matter of minutes, so it’s important to keep them in good shape. Also check the fan belt for cracks or wear.
5. Change the Air Filter
Your car’s air filter is an essential barrier for dirt and debris, preventing it from entering the intake of your vehicle and causing engine damage. But your air filter can become detrimental to performance and economy if you allow it to get so dirty that it restricts airflow. Check your air filter and replace it if needed. A clogged or dirty air filter can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10%, so you’ll definitely want to get this changed before you head out on your next road trip.
6. Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Wiper blades are made of rubber so they naturally wear out after several months of wiping snow, rain, and dust from your windshield. If you notice that your wipers leave marks on your windshield, or have trouble clearing away rain or mud, then it’s time to get them changed. You can find replacement windshield wiper blades at most auto parts stores, however your particular Kia model may require specific blades. You can change your wiper blades yourself, or come in to Mississauga Kia and get them done at your next vehicle service.
7. Check Your Brakes
We shouldn’t have to tell you that your brakes are the most important safety component in your vehicle. While brakes are important at any time of year, it’s a good idea to get them checked and repaired by a professional before you get your summer started. You can tell when your brakes need to be replaced by checking whether the brake pads or shoes have worn down past the minimum thickness specified for your vehicle. Some vehicles are equipped with electronic wear indicators to let you know when it’s time for a brake service. If you feel that your brakes are pulsating, loud, or less effective than they used to be, then you should get them inspected as soon as possible at Mississauga Kia’s state-of-the-art service and repair facility.
8. Check the Coolant and Radiator
You definitely want your cooling system to be ready for summer. Idling for long periods of time in hot weather is tough on your cooling system, but a vehicle with a healthy system will be able to handle it without overheating. Check that your coolant levels are topped up, that your radiator fins aren’t obstructed with dirt or debris, and ensure that you don’t have any coolant leaks (you would see these under your vehicle after it’s been parked for a while. Coolant has a slightly sweet odour.) If you notice a leak, you should get it checked out right away. The general rule is to flush your coolant every two years.
9. Clean Your Battery
Hot temperatures can dramatically reduce the lifespan of your car’s battery. This is due to a number of factors. For one, the heat will cause your battery fluid to evaporate more quickly. It can also speed up your battery’s chemical reaction, causing an overcharged condition that will shorten its lifespan. Your battery’s terminals can also get dirty and corroded. The best way to keep your battery running well is to keep it clean by detaching your battery terminals and wiping them off. If there is excessive corrosion or a whitish, ashy deposit around the terminal, you will need to clean it. Sometimes these deposits are acidic, so you can use a combination of baking soda and water to neutralize it as you clean. An old toothbrush is actually quite a useful tool for this. You can use a toothbrush for this. If your battery isn’t holding a charge, feel free to come in to Mississauga Kia and we inspect your battery and replace it if needed.
10. Maintain Your Air Conditioning
The best way to tell if your air conditioner has a problem is if it can’t generate or maintain air temperatures that are 10 degrees Celsius below the ambient outside air temperature. The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused by a leak somewhere in the system. Since modern air conditioning systems are complicated creatures, it’s best to come in and have our service professionals address the problem.