Automotive Care Tips - Summer
If you can’t stand the heat – you may want to get out of Texas!
Summer time is here and with it we must renew our vows to keep our cars and ourselves running cool.
The cooling system, a necessary item of maintenance is often times shortchanged. By this I mean we absent-mindedly believe that a check of the coolant level is all that is required. Not so, the cooling system is comprised of sound components such as the radiator cap, thermostat, the coolant mixture, along with the cooling fans, fan clutches, hoses and clamps. All of these items should be inspected and serviced as required.
The radiator not only stores coolant but also is the area of heat exchange for the hot coolant coming out of the engine. Today’s vehicles have lightweight plastic/aluminum designs, which are more efficient but are not leak proof. Check for telltale signs of seepage for any visible cracks in the plastic tanks themselves. Also keep an eye on the recovery tank level. If you have to add coolant, it most likely has some form of leak.
*Warning: Never remove your radiator cap on a hot engine. The cooling system develops pressure and produces a high temperature in the coolant itself. Burns can be experienced unless extreme caution is used.
The belt needs to be in good condition, clean, and properly adjusted. A slipping belt creates heat which can damage other items (usually effecting the bearings). Also, the heat shortens the life expectancy of the rubber component itself. Check for cracks and actual deterioration or contamination. On many of today’s vehicles there is only one belt since this controls your water pump, A/C and power steering is critical that the belt be in good condition and replaced periodically. Also, look at the routing of the belt and visually inspect the grooves and the outer appearance of the pulleys and tensioners for flaws and wear. The pump may be one of these items but more often than not, in today’s cars is now hidden inside the timing cover. The pump in this situation can be most easily examined during your maintenance of the timing belt itself.
Hoses will become hard with age and can even experience an internal deterioration. To check correctly, make sure the engine is off and cooled. Gently roll the hose and squeeze. It should not be excessively hard or brittle. Cracking is indicative of flaws or wear. The pump in this situation can be most easily examined during your maintenance of the timing belt itself.
Thermostats will weaken with age and should be replaced at some point in the life of your vehicle. On many cars and trucks the antifreeze should be drained at 30,000 miles. This would also be an excellent time to service your thermostat. As always, we suggest that you refer to your own specific owner’s manual for service intervals because some of today’s vehicles are good for up to 100,000 miles.
Cooling fans may be incorporated with the water pump of electric in their design. Visually inspect the fan for damage to the blades or for cracking if plastic. If the fan has a thermostat clutch which is four years old or older, it most likely should be replaced. Electric fans also need to be inspected. Be careful, as some times these fans will come on even if the key is turned off.
Hot weather is also demanding on batteries and tires. Take a quick look at these items periodically. Check the battery electrolyte level if possible and add only distilled water when refilling a low cell. Clean the connections and cables and make certain that your terminal ends are tight. Check your tire for good tread and air pressure at least once a week with a gauge.
We hope that these few insights will help you and your family enjoy a problem-free summer. Remember to always capture and recycle antifreeze correctly. Accidental spills can be harmful to pets and our environment.
Thank you for visiting Car-Pro of San Antonio in Hill Country Village, TX. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.