Preparing your vehicle for the summer months

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Now that hurricane season has begun a number of people will tell you to stock up on water, canned food and have an evacuation plan. While gathering those things you need to ensure your vehicle is ready for evacuation in the worst case scenario, or a vacation in the best case scenario.
Whether you will be using your vehicle to visit family and friends during a vacation or flee the damaging winds and water of a storm, these tips can help prevent your vehicle from breaking down.
Checking and changing the oil is essential to long engine life. If the dipstick pulls up dark black oil, instead of slightly translucent brown, it needs to be changed. If you change the oil yourself be sure to bring the used oil to a proper recycling facility; never pour it on the ground, in a ditch or in a body of water.
Air conditioning systems will be heavily used during the heat of summer. All vehicles made after 1996 use a commercially available coolant called R-134a. A refill canister may cost about $30, but is cheaper than bringing your vehicle to a shop if you have a bit of knowledge and can read instructions. If you drive an older vehicle or feel the system has larger problems it would be better to bring it to a professional for inspection.
You won’t be able to get anywhere if the vehicle won’t start, and for that it will need a working battery. Typically only a professional with the proper testing equipment will be able to test the battery for dead cells. But some simple maintenance such as removing corrosion from the connections, tightening all connections and checking the fluid in a battery with removable caps will keep it working longer.
Since unexpected things can occur, it’s a good idea to keep a tool kit, tire pump and gauge along with a first aid kit in your car.
These maintenance procedures will help keep your vehicle running at it’s best, whether you are going to the beach, or heading inland.

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