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Preparing Your Car for Summer Driving

(Newstream) -- It's summer, the days are longer and the open road beckons. But before cruising around the neighborhood or taking off cross-country, motorists must prepare their vehicles now, to avoid getting stranded later.

"Summer driving conditions are often hot and stressful on equipment," notes Bruce Chidsey, a world class ASE technician and Vice President of Pep Boys Service Operations. "Maintaining the mechanical systems of your car or light truck now can mean peace of mind during summer road trips. Preventive maintenance is the key."

He suggests paying attention to these critical areas:

Cooling System

Failures in the cooling system are a major cause of vacation breakdowns. Be sure to check for leaks in the radiator and heater hoses. Chidsey notes that rubber parts are often the primary reason for breakdowns on the road and are inexpensive to replace. He also suggests replacing the antifreeze if it's over two years old. Also, make sure the air conditioning system is working properly.

Tires, Steering & Suspension

Winter potholes take their toll on tires, steering and suspension components. Check the tires for dangerous sidewall breaks and excessive or uneven tread wear. Steering or brake pull can indicate suspension problems or the need for a front end alignment.


Test the battery now, especially if it's at the end of its warranted life, Chidsey advises. Also, make sure the connections between the battery cables and terminals are tight and free of corrosion.


Salt can damage brakes, Chidsey notes.

"If it's been more than 15,000 miles or six months since the last time the brakes were checked, get them inspected," he says. "Make sure the inspection includes all brake linings and pads. The hydraulic system should also be looked over for leaks. A sponginess in the brake pedal, a tendency to pull to one side when braking, or a drop in the master cylinder's fluid level reservoir can all signify a problem and the need for maintenance or service."

Engine Drive Belts

Engine drive belts operate important parts attached to your engine, such as the alternator, water pump, smog pump and air conditioner compressors. They should be checked regularly for cracks, dry-rot, glazing, uneven wear and frayed edges.

"If these belts slip or break, it could mean a breakdown, loss of air conditioning, engine overheating or worse, loss of steering.," Chidsey cautions. "The condition of the timing belt is also important, since when these belts break, they can cause immediate and potentially expensive internal engine damage."

related info
For complete information on taking care of your vehicle's engine drive belts, visit the Car Tips section of the Pep Boys website!

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