CAR CARE: BACK TO SCHOOL CHECKLIST
The summer driving season is nearly over and stores are full of back to school merchandise.
Now that you’re starting to stock up on new pencils and notebooks, make sure you don’t miss forget about prepping your car. Your car has worked hard in the summer heat, so give it a head start on the new school year with some service.
Review the basics – Start with an oil and filter change. This summer has been hot. Through it all, your vehicle’s engine has been working in an enclosed space that is hotter still. Even at a comfortable 80 degrees outside temperature, it could be more than 200 degrees in your vehicle’s engine compartment. That heat puts a lot of stress on the engine’s oil, causing breakdown that can lead to reduced protection and possibly even the formation of sludge. Fresh lubrication will ensure smooth sailing on your travels.
Changing the rest of your vehicle’s filters when have the oil changed, if necessary, is a good practice. Remember the engine’s air filter, fuel filter, and the commonly-overlooked cabin air filter, if your car or truck has one. A new cabin filter will more effectively keep particulates and irritants such as pollen out of your cabin’s airflow. Change it up and breathe easy.
Small but crucial, the often-overlooked crankcase ventilation system filters should be checked and replaced at regular intervals, as well. If you don’t, you could be headed for a more expensive problem down the road. Your engine’s ventilation system traps vapor and directs it through the engine’s intake system instead of letting it seep out into the atmosphere. A failed or plugged system will allow the buildup of excess pressure inside your engine. When that happens, the pressure can squeeze out an oil seal, leading to a serious leak. No doubt your engine will breathe easier.
Don’t forget the details – While you’re under the hood, make sure everything else checks out, too. What kind of shape is the serpentine belt in? How about the coolant that’s in the reservoir? Not only should it be brought to the proper level, but the coolant should be just a few years old. Let it circulate too long and it loses the additives that help protect your engine from corrosion; not only that, it will no longer offer the same level of freeze and boil-over protection.
Batteries also hate the heat, so make sure you’re not making its job harder with corroded or excessively dirty electrical connections. If there is obvious green corrosion at the battery terminal connects, first neutralize the acid, then clean and re-seat all the connections. If your battery is not of the maintenance free variety, it should also be checked for the proper fluid levels. If you’re not comfortable doing these jobs, your dealer’s service department will know how.
Last, because the days are getting shorter fast, do a walk-around to make sure all the lights are working. From running lamps to blinkers and even license plate lamps, check them all. It’s obvious when a headlamp is out, but not everybody takes notice of just how many bulbs there can be on an automobile. Take a look, and if you’re unsure of which replacement bulbs to get, consult your owner’s manual. Or simply stop by and let the expert technicians do it for you.
A quick check of these items will help you stay on course. Check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance items and make an appointment with your service department.