Summer weather conditions can be even tougher on your car than winter ice and snow — but our printable summer car care checklist will make sure you know how to beat the heat, protect your car, and keep your family safer when on the road. Sponsored by Toco Warranty.
I’ve always been the type of gal who likes to learn as much as possible about cars. I think it’s especially important for us women to know our stuff when we go to the mechanic in order to get the best prices and service.
I love to “prove ’em wrong” when people expect that I don’t know much about my car just because I’m a woman!
That’s why I’m excited to announce that I’m partnering with Toco Warranty, simple and affordable vehicle service contracts (VSC) with pay-as-you-go monthly payment plans! Did you know that 60% of American car owners see their vehicle as a four-wheeled family member, according to a survey by Toco Warranty? I know I do!
Through this partnership and by sharing what I’ve learned about car care over the years (often through trial and error), you won’t make the same mistakes I did—AND you’ll hopefully get some new tips to keep your car running for the long haul!
How to Take Care of Your Car in the Summer
If you own a car, you’ve probably heard the term “winterize car,” as in preparing your car for winter weather conditions like ice and snow.
However, did you know that it is equally important to get your car ready for summer too?
Before you set off on a summer road trip, make sure that your car is ready to handle the trip.
Even if you’re just driving around town, summer heat is harsh on cars. Your car needs extra TLC during the summer to keep it in top condition.
Our summer car care checklist will help you get your car road-trip ready and protect it from extreme heat. We’ll also share how a vehicle service contract from Toco Warranty gives us peace of mind from summer breakdowns (because sometimes they happen despite our best preparations!)
12 Steps to Get Your Car Ready for Summer
Car care in summer is different than what you’d do to winterize your car. The following steps will get your car ready for summer driving conditions.
1. Replace battery
Believe it or not, summer heat is tougher on a car battery than are winter conditions.
The lifespan of a car battery ranges from 3-5 years, depending on the make and usage. If you can’t remember the last time you got a new battery, it’s a good idea to head to your local mechanic or auto parts shop for a battery test.
Other clues that your car’s battery may be on its last leg:
- Engine is slow to start or “cranks” before catching
- Check engine light is on
- Battery fluid is low
- Battery casing has expanded or looks swollen
- Corrosion on battery connections (may indicate leaking battery fluid)
2. Top Off or Replace Fluids
It makes sense that due to higher temperatures in the summer, your car is more likely to overheat. This is why it is critical to make sure that you car has the right amount of fluids, like coolant, and that the fluids are clean.
Below are the car fluids you should check regularly:
- Engine oil (see #9)
- Coolant (antifreeze)
- Radiator fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
All of the above serve important functions, from keeping engine parts running smoothly to keeping the windshield clean and your visibility good.
3. Get a Brake Inspection
Winter weather conditions do a number on your brakes, that’s why you should get them checked out before summer driving season.
Furthermore, when your brakes activate, it creates friction and heat. If the outdoor temperature is also hot, this makes for even more heat and pressure on your brakes.
Regular inspections help ensure that your brakes are holding up to the heat.
4. Adjust Tire Pressure
Though you should be checking your tire pressure regularly, it’s even more important to do so during the hot summer months.
Heat causes air inside your tires to expand, creating more pressure. Over-inflated tires are dangerous because they’re more prone to blow-outs.
The amount of air in your tires might have been perfect during winter and spring, but you’ll likely need to adjust when the summer heat hits.
While you’re at it, check the tire treads too!
I was always taught to do the “penny test” — slide a penny into the grooves in your tires and if Lincoln’s entire head is visible, it’s probably time for new tires. If Lincoln’s head is fully or partially covered, you’ve got plenty of tread for now.
5. Clean the A/C System
Your car’s air conditioner gets a LOT more use during the summer, so it’s important to make sure it is in tip top shape before you need it.
An A/C check will let you know if it’s time to flush the system, add more freon, etc.
6. Thoroughly Wash Car Exterior
If you live in an area with a lot of snow, then you’ll likely drive on roads that are salted.
This road salt is extremely corrosive if left in contact with car surfaces and parts for an extended period of time.
As soon as the temperatures start to rise, a thorough car wash is a must! This will help rinse off any residual salt, dirt, and grime from driving through winter snow and ice.
7. Treat Leather and Interior Surfaces
When you clean the exterior of your car, it’s a good time to clean the interior too!
After you tidy up, clean and treat your leather and interior surfaces with protective products. Summer heat is harsh on car interiors, and can cause leather to crack or discolor.
Summers in Texas are brutal, so I’ve dealt with this problem a lot! Trust me when I say that it’s much easier to prevent leather damage than to fix it later down the road.
8. Use a Dashboard Sun Shade
Another way to protect the interior of your car is with a dashboard sun shade or sun screen. This lightweight screen prevents sunlight from pouring in through your car’s windshield.
Blocking sunlight not only protects your car’s interior surfaces, but it keeps the temperature of your car cooler as well. That way when you turn the car on, it takes less time to cool down and the A/C doesn’t need to work as hard.
Parking your car in a covered or shaded area helps prevent heat damage too.
9. Get an Oil Change
You should change your car’s oil regularly throughout the year. However, if you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to change the oil first.
Dirty oil can lead to premature wear and tear on your car’s engine — it can even lead to parts failing and breakdowns! Keeping up with oil changes will ensure that your car lasts longer and your family rides safer.
10. Change Wiper Blades
Did you know that windshield wiper blades are often designed to work best for a specific temperature range?
Wiper blades intended for winter use may be too soft for higher temperatures, and prone to failure. Furthermore, scraping over ice and snow all winter does quite a bit of damage to wiper blades, so that they may not work as well as they should.
Before summer arrives, change your wiper blades to a model that is ideal for summer conditions. That way when you drive through your first summer thunderstorm, you’ll be ready!
11. Clean or Replace Air Filters
Harsh winter conditions can dirty air filters – both the engine air filter and the cabin air filter. A dirty air filter can affect engine performance, while a dirty cabin air filter means your family is breathing in less-than-ideal air while driving.
Some air filters are washable and reusable, while others must be replaced.
12. Protect Yourself from Summer Breakdowns with a VSC from Toco Warranty
Our family always purchases certified pre-owned vehicles. However, any pre-owned vehicle is going to have issues at some point.
That’s why I’m thrilled about our new vehicle service contract from Toco Warranty — it gives me peace of mind to know that we’re covered in case of a breakdown.*
What is a Vehicle Service Contract (VSC)?
A vehicle service contract is a way to make sure that you’re protected in case of a covered breakdown.
The thing about car trouble is it’s usually unexpected. When your car breaks down, you’re stuck with a big repair bill if you want to get back on the road again.
And who can go without their car for very long??
That’s where a vehicle service contract comes in handy. But one of the things that always gave me pause about extended warranties is that they lacked flexibility: They often try to lock you into a contract or require an up-front payment to get started.
But with Toco, you just sign up and make an affordable monthly payment, and you’re covered when breakdowns happen!* Toco’s model is simple with pay-as-you-go plans for as long as you want coverage.
But what I think truly sets Toco Warranty apart are the extras:
- Reliable customer service — they’ll walk you through the entire process to make sure everything goes just right, and they offer a dedicated concierge for all of your needs.
- 24-hour roadside assistance — for 365 days a year, help is always just a call away!
- Nationwide repair facilities — you can choose the mechanic from a nationwide list of covered facilities.
- MyToco Portal – view their account information, download electronic documents, manage payment plans, send a referral and live chat with a Toco Customer Care specialist.
I’m always looking for ways to make every mile count, and Toco Warranty goes above and beyond to meet my expectations. I know that we can drive with confidence, because Toco Warranty is there to help when we need them.
Deal Alert: I’m excited to share with you a special offer ONLY for fans of The Soccer Mom Blog! Use promo code “SOCCER” to save 50% on your first month! CLICK HERE to make every mile count with Toco Warranty!
*for covered breakdowns; exclusions apply
Printable Summer Car Care Checklist
Grab a free printable copy of our summer car care checklist by filling out the form below.
Your turn: Do you have any summer travel plans? Tell us how you get your car ready for summer in the comments below!