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Car Maintenance Tips for Summer Driving

Summer is finally here, and families all across the country are getting ready to load the car, fill the tank and head out on the open highway.  There’s nothing like the combination of heat, heavy loads and logging all those miles to put a vehicle to the test.  Providing customers with a summer vehicle inspection and car maintenance package could make all the difference for a trouble-free road trip.

Here are a few services to include:

  1. Tire Pressure & Tread wear Set the correct tire pressure in all five tires; including the spare tire in the trunk.  Educate customers on the difference between the maximum and recommended tire pressure as provided by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that with a vehicle full of family, luggage, bicycles and more, the load will be heavier than normal and the customer should follow their owner’s manual for heavy loads.  Inspect the condition of all tire treads.  While the minimum acceptable tread depth is 3/32 inch, it may not be best to set the family off on their trip with the minimum tread.  If they’re close to needing new tires, suggest that they get them before they hit the road.
  2. Oil Change For customers that have not quite reached their next oil change interval, suggest that they have this service done before getting on the road. If they will be towing anything such as a trailer, boat, or camper, find out if the manufacturer recommends using a higher viscosity oil.
  3. HVAC System Inspection Keep the family cool.  Assess the vehicle’s HVAC performance, test for leaks and inspect the compressor clutch and belts.  Make sure that the AC system is fully charged with refrigerant and make sure that the cabin air filter is clean. If the cabin air filter is difficult to visually inspect, use an anemometer to test air flow through the interior vents. With the system turned to the highest fan setting, any reading below 9 mph indicates poor air flow and a dirty cabin air filter could be the reason.  Changing the cabin air filter will also ensure that contaminants are removed from the air as they enter the vehicle – keeping all passengers breathing easy on the trip.
  4. Cooling System Service Reduce the risk of overheating.  Examine the entire cooling system: radiator, belts and hoses, cooling fans, heater core and water pump.  Fill with coolant or propose flushing the system and replacing the coolant if it’s close to the manufacturer’s recommended service interval.
  5. Transmission Maintenance Recommend flushing the transmission and changing the transmission fluid when vehicles are within a few thousand miles of manufacturer suggested maintenance. This is especially important if they will be towing anything. Remind customers that this helps prolong the life of the transmission.
  6. Air Intake Visually inspect the engine air filter and if needed, propose a replacement to optimize engine performance and maximize fuel efficiency.
  7. Lights Make sure all lights are working, including brakes, turn signals, headlights, and taillights.  Advise customers to check lights on any trailers in tow at least a few days before hitting the road in case they need to repair or replace anything.
  8. Wiper Blade Replacement Windshield wipers should provide a smear-free view. If the wipers haven’t been changed since winter, suggest replacing them.  Also, fill the windshield washer reservoir.
  9. Brake Inspection Inspect brake pads and rotors, making sure that there is no abnormal wear such as grooves, corrosion, or warping of the rotors. Make sure brake pads are wearing evenly. Uneven wear is an indication of sticky brake calipers that should be replaced. Also check brake lines for leaks, corrosion, or worn rubber. Lastly, visually inspect the brake fluid level, ensuring that it is at the minimum manufacturer’s recommendation.
  10. Suspension Inspection If your customers will be towing a trailer or carrying a great deal of extra weight, take a look at the vehicle’s shocks and springs and determine if they can safely handle the additional load.

We recommend scheduling this vehicle checkup a week or two before the trip to allow plenty of time in case there are any unexpected repairs that could take more time to fix.  Your summertime vehicle inspection will help customers reach their destination comfortably, safely and without interruption.

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