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Have you ever seen a car on the side of the road with steam coming out of the engine bay? This usually means the car overheated. This is caused by hard driving, poor maintenance, and hot summer temperatures. Before the dog days of summer arrive, it’s important to complete some car maintenance items to help beat the effects of the heat.

Complete these five car maintenance items to get your car ready for the summer heat.

1. Top off the engine fluids – keep things flowing nicely

Your car’s engine utilizes several fluids to keep the engine cool and lubricate moving parts. Topping off or replacing engine fluids is one of the most important car maintenance items you can perform before the summer heat arrives. If you’re planning a summer road trip, this should be part of your checklist.

Note: Your engine’s coolant is one of the most important fluids to keep things cooler in the summer.

2. Check your air conditioning

Do you want to go through summer with the windows down? If you spend a lot of time in stopped traffic on the highway, you’ll soon learn how uncomfortable it can be to sit in the heat with your windows down. Avoid this situation by checking your car’s air conditioning system to ensure it’s working properly. If not, take care of this car maintenance item and enjoy a more comfortable summer.

3. Check your car’s air filters

Most newer cars have two air filters: one for the engine and another for the cabin. These filters should be changed regularly. Before the summer heat arrives, check both filters and replace them as necessary. This can go a long way toward improving fuel mileage and keeping the cabin comfortable throughout the summer months.

4. Tires – check and rotate those tires

During the hot summer months, the air in your tires can expand, causing them to have more pressure than required. If you’re already checking the tire pressure, take care of another car maintenance item by rotating your tires. Your tires should be rotated regularly to ensure even tread wear and performance.

5. Clean your car

It’s time for a new season to begin, which means an opportunity to feel better about your car. Clean your car inside and out before the summer months arrive, giving your vehicle a great new feeling you’ll enjoy when behind the wheel. This is also a great way to avoid the hot temperatures melting plastic food containers or other items left inside your car.

In addition to these car maintenance tips for summer, here are a few good habits to help protect you and your car during these hot months:

  • Park in the shade – This helps keep your car cooler than if you park in the bright sun. Use a car window shade to help block out some of the UV heat and make your interior feel more comfortable when returning to the car at the end of the workday.
  • Watch your temperature gauge – If you see the temperature gauge begin to rise and close in on the red area, it’s time to pull over for a bit. Pull to the side of the road, put your hazard lights on, turn the car off, and raise the hood to cool the car down. If the gauge continues to show high temperatures, take your car to a mechanic to fix the problem.
  • Stay hydrated – You never know when your vehicle will overheat or have issues in the summer. Even if you complete these car maintenance items, your car could stop working, leaving you stranded in the summer heat. Stay hydrated and avoid creating a worse situation by keeping a few water bottles in your car.

Source: The Zebra