Keep your vehicle running strong and smooth. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you're getting the most from maintaining and servicing your vehicle.
Getting Your Car Prepped for Summer
New England weather is tough on cars, but with summer here, check out these 3 easy tips to make sure your car is ready for the change in season.
1. Keep it Clean
It seems basic and almost redundant, but the benefits of cleaning your car both inside and out following the winter season outweigh the time the cleaning may consume. Take your car to a car wash (or do it yourself the old-fashioned way): this will combat the predictable build-up of grimy snow residue and the abundance of corrosive road salt. We may love the added friction road salt adds for safety, but the more it builds up, the more likely you are to find damage to the subframe. If you already have rust issues, prioritize cleaning—possibly even having your cart detailed—somewhat regularly during and after wintry months. As for the inside—you’ve likely collected dirt and road salt all over your mats, as well as filled your back seat and trunk with the tools of the winter trade: gloves, snow brush, ice scraper, your massive shovel. Decluttering preemptively makes space for your summer trips.
2. Check Your “Fluids”
While you may need to increase your water intake when the weather heats up, it’s also time to check your oil, coolant, and brake fluid.
- Your oil should be an amber hue and reach the fill level. If it’s dark—black—you should change it immediately. If it’s low, top it off.
- Coolant: Ideally, you should be changing your coolant once a year, so why not do it when you’ll be using it the most.
- Brake fluid: Another thing that feels like a no-brainer because it plays clearly into your safety, but we’d be remiss not to include it. The brake fluid is easily visible in a mostly-clear reservoir under the hood. If it’s low, be sure to have it filled. Like the oil, if it’s dark: you should have a mechanic flush and replace the fluid. Brake fluid is poisonous so this is one of those things you should leave to a professional.
3. Wheels Up
Everyone complains about the cost of tires and replacing them. You may even say, “If it’s good in winter, i.e. snow, slush, etc., then it’s fine in summer.” And, you know, you aren’t entirely wrong. Tires will get you from point A to point B if you’re taking care of them. However much like prioritizing the cleaning of your car, your snow tires take an utter beating. Think Spinks vs Tyson in1988. Check your tires for any type of bubbles, tread wear, etc. because your tires are the most important thing to check regardless of the season. In particular, the change in weather effects the psi range for your tires so they should be adjusted accordingly with the seasons. If your tires have uneven wear and tear, it’d be worth having your car inspected for other tire issues. Even if you have separate sets of tires for the seasons, always give them a personal inspection before saddling up. Remember: your tires and brakes are of utmost importance 365 days a year.
Help Your Tires “Live Long and Prosper”
Boston and Providence roads are tough on tires. So here are some ways to keep the rubber on the road and maximize your tires’ lives:
- Keep your tires at the recommended psi for the season and having a wheel alignment performed yearly. Wear can’t be prevented, but you want your tires to wear evenly to prevent blowouts and other issues. Do your penny test and remember the less of Lincoln’s head you see, the better. The balder your tire gets, the less friction. If your tires are displaying uneven wear in the middle, you’ve likely been driving with overinflated tires, if the inverse is true then you’ve been driving with under-inflated tires. If the wear is only one side of the tire, there’s a chance you have bad alignment or a defect. If the wear is angled, your car may have defective suspension. All of these types of wear need attention.
- When the season changes, so should your tires. If you have all-season tires, all of the above still applies. If you have separate sets for winter months and warmer months, make sure you’re properly storing the set that isn’t in use (avoid storing in places that aren’t climate controlled—avoid warm storage), and inspecting your in-use set before putting them on your car.
- When you get that flyer in the mail offering a free tire rotation and you know you haven’t had your tires rotated in a while—or ever, but hopefully not the case—then take them up on the offer. Rotating your tires every six months, accompanied with proper psi inflation, will maximize the life of your tires and help ensure that even tread wear.
BRAKING NEWS: Brake Problem Warning Signs
One of the most vital functions of a car in motion is the ability to stop in motion in a controlled manner. Your vehicle’s brakes help guarantee your safety and the safety of others, and the positive is: the warning signs for brake problems can be largely picked up by your human senses. Except taste—don’t taste your tires.
- If you are hearing screeches, grinding noises, squeals, or any other unsettling sounds, you should prioritize inspecting your brake pads and shoes.
- If you see your Brake Warning indicator turn on and/or notice your car veering to one side, rather than remaining straight, while braking, it’s time to take your car to the shop.
- If you feel like the car herks and jerks when you press the brake pedal, or that you need to pump the brakes to safely stop, you’re definitely in need of brake maintenance. This could also be a symptom of low brake fluid, moisture in the fluid, or air in the lines (which can be caused by the brakes not being bled correctly post- servicing). If the issue is that the Brake pad is difficult to press, take it in to the shop rather than trying to troubleshoot the issue. It’s always better to be on the safe side of Brake Warnings.
- If you’ve observed any of these other issues and want to gather more information to share with a mechanic before bringing it into the shop, touch your wheels after a short drive. If they’re very hot, this is another symptom of possible brake issues that may require servicing.
- If you’re driving a notice a burning type odor coming from your car upon (often repeated) hard braking, you’re likely experiencing overheated brakes. It’s important to safely pull over when possible and allow the brakes to cool. Remember that your car’s ability to safely brake is a priority for everyone on the road. Don’t take unnecessary risks.