Many motorists neglect the basic automotive maintenance needed to prepare vehicles for warm-weather driving, according to the results of a national vehicle inspection program conducted by the American Automobile Association.
The effects of neglected maintenance often surface in hot or rainy conditions. It is clear that many vehicles are not ready for the challenge of summer driving. AAA examined more than 4,400 vehicles in 1995 and found 46 percent of the vehicles needed tire-related service, 33 percent had faulty belts or hoses, 32 percent had lighting system malfunctions, 18 percent were in need of battery service or replacement and 18 percent produced excessive emissions.
AAA receives approximately 27 million calls annually for emergency roadside service. Many of these breakdowns could be avoided with proper vehicle maintenance. Before summer driving season arrives, motorists should inspect their vehicles or have an inspection conducted by a certified technician. An inspection should include the following points:
Examine tires for uneven or excessive tread wear. Make sure all tires, including the spare, are inflated properly.
Inspect and replace worn or cracked belts as well as worn, cracked, blistered or soft hoses.
Inspect antifreeze/coolant level and condition, making certain the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.
Check motor oil level and condition. If driving under extreme conditions -- such as very hot temperatures or towing a heavy trailer -- switch to a motor oil with higher viscosity. Check the owner's manual for specific oil recommendations.
Check the air conditioning system for leaks and have it serviced using the refrigerant R-12 in older systems or R-134A in new or modified air conditioners. Do not use non-approved substitute refrigerants.
Because hot weather can shorten the life of a car's battery, weak or old batteries should be tested and replaced if necessary.
Coutesy of the AAA