Summer is here. Is your vehicle ready?

Ahhh, summertime. Warmer weather, barbecues, flip-flops and swimming pools. This time of year, people across the United States typically load up the car and hit the highway to enjoy one of the great traditions of the season … the road trip.

Prepare for happy travels

As you head out this year, be sure you don’t get stuck with maintenance issues in the middle of your excursion. To make the most of your travels, it’s best to give your car a thorough checkup before you hit the road.

If there is something you do not know how to handle, take your vehicle to a professional. Also, check your owner’s manual for advice on how to properly care for your car. Some of your equipment may be outdated and ready for replacement.

Oil change – Depending on your car and your usage of the vehicle, it may be time for an oil change. While most modern cars have sensors to warn you when your oil needs a change, make sure to check if your oil or oil filters need replacing.

Air conditioning – Check that your air conditioning is working at its best. You don’t want to get stuck in the summer heat without proper A/C. Just turn it on and make sure that it is giving off the right amount of air flow. If it does not feel right or powerful enough, take it in to be looked at by a licensed mechanic.

Coolant – The summer is a prime time for your car to overheat, so make sure to check your cooling system. The cooling system helps prevent the engine from overheating, so consider flushing and refilling the coolant. Or have a professional do it for you if you do not know how to properly perform this task.

Engine air filters – During the warmer months your car’s engine can be negatively affected by drier conditions and extra dust floating around. It’s a good idea to check the filters to see if they’re caked with dirt and, if so, to replace them so your engine can function properly.

Windshield wipers – After long days of scraping off ice or snow, the windshield wipers may be pretty worn down. Try investing in some wiper fluid or maybe new wiper blades depending on the condition of the existing ones. Check and make sure they are not losing their grip, so you don’t end up stuck in a rainstorm unable to see the roads.

Tires – Take a look at your tires to see if they are in tip-top shape for summer road trips and hot roads. Try checking the tire’s pressure and scanning each tire to look for any signs of wear on your tire or the structure around it.

Brakes – Try pumping your brakes a few times to see if they are still in good shape. If they feel funny or make weird noises while you are driving, consider taking them to a mechanic to be checked, or replacing the brake fluids.

Battery – You don’t want a dead car battery in the middle of a hot day. Make sure to check your battery for any defects. Be careful when handling a battery, but try cleaning around the structure to prevent future problems. Take a look around it to make sure it is properly filled and cleaned. This can help lengthen your battery’s lifespan.

Hoses and belts – Check any hoses or belts under the hood of your car. When your car is cool, feel around gently and see if there are any worn out parts or blisters. This could mean that the pieces need some repairs.

As a final measure, try taking your car for a quick test drive. Listen for any weird noises, or strange feelings while driving. This can help you catch a problem before it gets worse.

These quick and easy steps can help you enjoy your summer on the road knowing that you’ve worked to stay on top of your car’s maintenance. You can also review our list of 100 car care tips for a more comprehensive list.