Is My Vehicle Ready for the Summer?

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The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer are well underway, the beaches are open to the public, and many of the COVID-related restrictions are slowly being lifted. After months of strict social distancing, people are ready to get out of the house, see friends and family, and enjoy the warm weather. Whether that means taking a family vacation, a day trip to the beach, or going to a friend’s house for a cookout, it will involve getting in the car and driving. No matter the length of the trip, it is important that a vehicle is prepared for the summer heat. The rising temperatures can affect a vehicle’s performance, even if someone is driving only a few miles. However, by following a simple checklist, drivers can keep their vehicle running safely during the summer months.

What Should the Vehicle Checklist Include?

According to AAA, vehicle maintenance should be an important step in everyone’s summer preparation plan, particularly if they are planning a long road trip. Although some service items are simple to do, others require a professional mechanic, so travelers should schedule an appointment with a local mechanic prior to a planned vacation to avoid heat-related issues. A vehicle care checklist should include the following:

  • Check the air conditioning: A car can easily overheat during the summer, particularly if the car is an older model. If the air conditioning (AC) is on but no cool air is coming out, the system may need to be fixed. Drivers can check the AC visually for any cracks in the hoses or if the condenser or cabin air filter is obstructed. If both appear to be working properly, it may be necessary for a Freon recharge. Drivers can purchase cans of Freon and carefully attempt the repair if they feel comfortable doing so. Otherwise, it is recommended that the driver bring the car to a mechanic who can install the Freon and ensure that the air conditioner is functioning properly.
  • Check the engine cooling system: Overheating is the most common cause of breakdowns during the summer. The radiator protects the engine from overheating, and if the engine overheats, the engine block or the cylinder head can become damaged. Engine repairs can be quite expensive, so it is important to ensure that the cooling system is flushed and refilled every 24 months. Also, drivers should check the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant, as well as the tightness and condition of all belts, clamps, and hoses. It is recommended that this is done by a mechanic, but if a driver plans on doing it themselves, they should never remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled completely.
  • Check tire pressure: It is important to inspect all five tires, including the spare. The air inside the tires can expand in the hot weather, increasing the risk of a dangerous blowout. Underinflation can cause increased wear. Both conditions are common during the summer. It is also recommended that drivers change to a seasonal tire that performs better in the summer. These have hard rubber compounds that withstand hot roads better than tires that are recommended for winter weather.
  • Check the brakes: If a vehicle’s brakes are not functioning properly, it can increase the risk of a car accident if the driver is unable to slow down or come to a complete stop. Brakes should be inspected regularly. If a driver hears any noises when applying the brakes, this is an indication that there may be a problem. In some cases, the brake fluid can become too acidic and cause metal components to become damaged. Brakes should be inspected by a professional mechanic, and even minor brake problems should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Replace fluids: Engine oil should be changed every three to five thousand miles, or as recommended, and drivers need to make sure that the necessary fluids are at the correct levels, including coolant, brake, transmission, and power steering fluids. A professional mechanic will ensure that the appropriate coolants and grade of oil are issued for warm weather.
  • Inspect the windshield wipers: When windshield wipers are worn or broken, it can cause serious visibility issues. Cracks in the rubber can cause streaking or become ineffective at cleaning the windshield. When this happens, the windshield wipers should be replaced. Also, the driver should make sure that there is enough wiper fluid in the reservoir. It is important to use wiper fluid that effectively removes insects, bird droppings, and other debris that can impact visibility.
  • Check the battery: A mechanic will be able to check the car battery to ensure that the cable connections are clean and tight, and that the hold-down hardware is secure. Battery acid is very corrosive, so rubber gloves and eye protection should be used when checking the battery.
  • Inspect all lights: Drivers should replace any headlights or taillights that have burned out. In addition to impacting visibility, failing to replace a burned-out light can result in a ticket.

What Should be Included in a Summer Emergency Kit?

If a vehicle breaks down on a hot summer day, the temperature inside can become very hot quickly. Drivers can avoid this by taking proper care of their vehicle and follow the above checklist. However, things can go wrong, so it is always a good idea to be prepared. Drivers should keep a summer emergency kit in the vehicle so that they can stay safe and comfortable while waiting for a tow truck or roadside service. The emergency kit should include the following items:

  • Visibility equipment: Flares, reflective hazard triangles, or LED flameless flares will alert oncoming traffic that there is a disabled vehicle.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is very important, particularly during the summer months. If the vehicle breaks down in an area where there is no shade, having enough water will help prevent dehydration and heat-related illnesses. It is suggested that one gallon of water per person be kept on-hand when traveling.
  • Blankets: During the summertime, blankets can be used to provide shade against the glaring sun. Reflective blankets are particularly effective at providing shade.
  • Tool kit: A small tool kit can come in handy all year round. Drivers should keep an adjustable wrench, duct tape, screwdrivers, and pliers in the car at all times. A flashlight and extra batteries should also be available.
  • First aid kit: This should include antibacterial ointment, gauze, bandages, adhesive tape, and tweezers. If someone has a life-threatening allergy, an EpiPen should be included in the kit.
  • Cell phone charger: If a driver’s cell phone battery is dead, they cannot call for help. It is important to keep an extra cell phone charger in the vehicle to keep the phone charged in the event of an emergency.
  • Jumper cables: These should be part of every emergency vehicle kit. They are used to charge a car battery that has died.
  • Tire sealant and gauge: Tire sealant can be used to repair a puncture in a tire, preventing it from going flat. The sealant can repair punctures up to 1.4 inch in diameter in the tire’s tread area. The gauge is used to ensure that the tire is properly inflated.
  • Non-perishable snacks: In addition to water, it is a good idea to include snacks, such as granola, dried fruit, and nuts, in the emergency kit so that the passengers have something to snack on while they wait for the tow truck to arrive.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Summer Car Accidents

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident during the summer, contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Even the most responsible and prepared drivers can be involved in a car accident during the hot summer months. When motorists on the road fail to prepare their vehicles for the heat, it can jeopardize the safety of other motorists on the road, particularly if their tires or brakes are not functioning properly. Our dedicated legal team will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood and Elkridge.