With summer right around the corner, there's no better time than now to familiarize yourself with the following driving and car maintenance tips.
Check Your Battery
The transition from spring to winter creates some serious heat -- and this heat can affect a car's battery, causing it to fail and/or no longer hold a charge. If you haven't done so already, test your battery to ensure it's able to hold a charge. If your battery fails the test, have it replaced. Depending on your make and model car, you should be able to replace it for $50 to $100.
Check Your Tires
In addition to the battery, you should also check your tires to ensure they are properly inflated with an adequate amount of tread left. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that some 400 fatalities are caused each year from improperly inflated tires. This problem is easily avoided, however, by using a PSI tire gauge and refilling or releasing air as needed.
Beware of Overheating
The hot temperatures of summer can increase the risk of an overheated engine. You may notice steam billowing from your hood and/or the temperature gauge on your dash rising. If you see either of these, pull over to a safe location and turn the ignition off. Do not attempt to drive your car when the engine is overheating, as this can lead to severe and costly damage, such as a blown head gasket or cracked block.
Monitor Fluid Levels
This goes hand-in-hand with overheating; if your car is low on coolant, the engine is more likely to overheat. The good news is that automotive coolant systems are closed, meaning you shouldn't lose coolant. However, there are times when the system may leak. If you have a faulty radiator cap, for instance, the pressure inside the lines may "push out" the coolant. So, try to get into the habit of checking your car's coolant, and engine oil, on a regular basis.
Keep an Emergency Roadside Kit
An emergency roadside kit is always a good thing to have, even if you never use it. Some common things to include in one are road flares, jumper cables, triangle reflectors, first aid supplies, flashlight (with extra batteries), screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench, duct tape, rags, fire extinguisher, etc.