Summer is the time for road trips. Clear weather and long hours of sunlight make for easy driving. Of course, summer can present some specific challenges for your car, especially one that’s up there in mileage.
Here are the top things you should check as far as how to prepare your old car for summer in Oakland, CA.
Test Your Air Conditioning
Oakland, CA has fairly mild weather all year round, with an annual average of 260 sunny days. That's a lot of fun in the sun! But this also means you may have been letting your car maintenance slide. After all, if there’s little change in the weather, why worry about doing anything differently?
For an old car, you should never forgo regular maintenance as things will just break down over time. And with temperatures rising everywhere, you’ll want to make sure your old car can survive an unexpected heatwave, the likes of which are becoming more of a common occurrence in the Bay Area in recent years.
You should run the AC system and make sure everything is working correctly. That means no odd smells coming out of vents, the modes work as they should, and the air is cold, not merely cool. You don’t want to be stuck in the blazing heat in that heavy Oakland traffic downtown at rush hour.
If you find the temperature fluctuates dramatically, especially with how hard your engine is working, or air isn’t blowing out of the correct vents, then you should take your car into the shop. There, they can check your refrigerant levels, belts, hoses, and condenser. You may also want to ask them to change the air filter at this time.
Check Your Car’s Fluids
Oil and coolant are especially important to check in the summer since they lubricate and cool your engine. This is especially true if you're planning to take your old car south of Oakland. You don’t want your car overheating on your way to your Joshua Tree Park desert vacation.
Coolant should be changed every two years regardless of the season. Your coolant should appear clean and bright and be filled to the appropriate levels. Coolant usually needs to be mixed with distilled water unless you purchased a “pre-mixed” coolant.
Your oil should be changed every 3-5 thousand miles or whatever is recommended for your car. Usually, warm temperatures are better for oil. If you’re coming out of a cooler-than-usual Oakland winter, you may have the wrong viscosity oil in your car. Make sure when you change your oil, it’s the correct grade for the summer months.
Check and Change Your Filters
With an older engine, you’re really going to want to check your car’s filters. Usually, Oakland summers are warm and dry, so that means easy driving. But, the increased dust can wreak havoc on an old engine if you aren’t careful.
Clogged filters decrease airflow to your car’s engine and hurt its performance. You should also make sure to keep a full fuel tank. There are a lot of problems that come up from a car that’s running on fumes. This includes debris entering the fuel system and condensation in the fuel.
If you don’t want to drive into trouble, be sure you stop and address any warning lights that come on in regards to your engine. Don’t ignore that check engine light even if everything seems to be ok.
Look Over Your Tires
Summer, winter, old car, new car, you should be checking your tires regularly.
Start with the air pressure. Over-inflated tires are at a higher risk of blowing out. An under-inflated tire wears out more easily. Both conditions are made worse by the heat of summer. As air temperature fluctuates, your tires can actually expand thanks to the heat outside.
You should also consider changing your tires altogether. If you had winter tires on your car, they may not hold up on hot summer roads. You might be okay in Oakland as the summers are pretty temperate, but take a trip a little further south, and you’re going to want a summer tire. They tend to be harder than winter tires and are made to withstand burning roads better.
Are Your Brakes in Their Best Shape?
Older cars will have a lot of wear and tear just from being around. If you haven’t been checking your car regularly, now is a good time to check your brakes.
This is especially true if you’ve driven your car to colder climates than Oakland’s through winter. The high heat from increased usage (crawling along an icy road) plus the freezing outside conditions means your brakes see extreme thermal cycling in winter.
Even if your car has only driven in Oakland’s mild weather, you’re going to want to check your brakes thoroughly. Make sure your brake pads don’t have signs of significant wear like discoloration or cracking. If you don’t feel comfortable checking them yourself, it’s worth taking your car to a mechanic.
Is Your Car Good to Go?
If you’ve gone through this list and your car is up to snuff, have a great summer. But if you found that your car is having significant problems in all these areas, it might be time for a change.
If your check engine light is always on with regular oil changes, your windows won’t close or open, or your AC isn’t going to work without significant and costly repairs, you might want to get rid of your old car.
If you need to junk your car, just give us a call. When getting rid of junk cars for cash in Oakland, Junk Car Medics can assist.