A few relatively inexpensive steps can ensure that your car will hold up in the summer heat, withstand the pain of traffic jams and minimize long-term maintenance costs.
As part of the 21st century tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected:
- Oil: It really should be changed every 5,000 miles, so check the mileage written on that little sticker in the upper left corner of your windshield.
- Tire pressure: Monitor tire pressure, wear and tread depth regularly.
- Coolant or radiator fluid: Check before summer and again before winter.
- Brake pads, discs and brake fluid: Check every 30,000 miles.
- Wiper fluid and blades: They need regular attention. Greasy windshields can become opaque in a wicked thunderstorm and lead to accidents.
- Power-steering fluid: Check it at major service intervals.
- Air-conditioning: If you live in or plan to travel to areas of extreme heat, be sure to have this checked and charged if needed.
- Spark plugs: Replace plugs every 50,000 to 60,000 miles for optimal performance and change wires along with the plugs.
- Oxygen sensor: It is the brain that tells the computer how much fuel to send to your engine. Have it checked during tune up.
- Fuel pumps and filters: Most manufacturers recommend replacement every 3 years or 36,000 miles. If you have a high mileage vehicle you should replace your car's fuel filter once a year.
- Oil filters: You should have your oil filter replaced every time your oil is changed.
So before you set out for adventure this summer, check your vehicle's owner manual for your maintenance schedule. Major services are generally due every 30,000 miles. If your odometer reading is a multiple of 30,000, it's time to make that service appointment.