Summer Car Care Essentials to Prevent Breakdowns

A red Dodge on the side of a desert road with it's hood open.

Summertime is the perfect season for car owners to get out, hit the open road, and enjoy warmer weather and fresh air. While summer makes for ideal driving, it is important to be aware of potential issues or repairs that can be caused by the heat – such as overheating, tire blowouts, electrical issues, and more.

Just like getting your car ready for winter, ensure you take the necessary precautions before heading out on your next summer road trip to avoid unexpected or costly repairs. To help you get started, we’ve identified summer car care tips and essentials you need to help prevent breakdowns.

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Common Maintenance to Perform This Summer

1.   Don’t Neglect Your Tire Pressure

Something often overlooked by drivers in the summer is tire pressure. The tires on your vehicle are made of rubber which can expand and contract depending on the temperature. Normal tire expansion or contraction is fine in moderation, but the intense change in heat from day to night in the summer can place a more significant strain on your tires.

Breakdowns can occur due to tires “blowing out” on the road. On a 77-degree day, the asphalt on the road can get as hot as 125 degrees and as the temperature continues to rise, the air pressure in your tires begins to rise. With a high tire pressure, also referred to as your tire’s PSI, you could be at a greater risk for cracking and a blown tire.

Avoid this by following your car’s maintenance schedule, as most vehicles are recommended to have their tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Also, check your tire pressure during warmer days to ensure it meets what is specified in your owner’s manual.

By signing up for any Endurance vehicle protection plan, you will receive a free year of Elite Benefits. Receive perks such as two free tire repairs or replacements each year and 24/7 roadside assistance. Learn more about Endurance Elite.

2.   Check Parts Associated with Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

Similar to checking your tire pressure, monitoring the coolant levels in your vehicle’s cooling systems can help you avoid any potential issues. Not to be confused with Freon, which helps your A/C, coolants are pushed throughout the engine bay and circulated to the radiator to transfer heat away from the engine. However, if one of these parts stops working, the entire system could be at risk.

When this happens, even if it isn’t summer, your vehicle’s engine risks overheating, which can be an expensive repair. Take the time to visually inspect under the hood before your drive to see if any belts, clamps, hoses, or other parts seem to be loose. If your vehicle is due for a routine check under the hood, be sure to take it in before the weather gets too warm.

3. Top Off Other Vehicle Fluids

Like coolants, all of the fluids under your vehicle’s hood serve a vital purpose, and it is essential to monitor their fluid levels to keep your vehicle running properly for longer. While fluids like coolants transfer heat away from the engine, engine oil, sometimes referred to as motor oil, acts as a lubricant that keeps your engine and other parts working properly.

If you are a new or existing Endurance customer, upgrade to an EnduranceAdvantageTM plan for the most comprehensive vehicle protection package on the market. Advantage offers up to $3,500 in regular maintenance costs for services, including up to three oil and filter changes per year.

Along with oil and coolants, several other fluids are crucial to your vehicle’s health, such as brake fluid, so take the time to check your fluid levels and top them off accordingly. Many cars have a dipstick that you can use to test the oil level under the hood. For coolants, many vehicles have an opaque container that allows you to see its level.

If your car doesn’t have this container, open the radiator cap to see if the coolant is filled to the top. Never check your coolant while the engine is still hot. Pressurized coolant can spray when opened and can burn your skin easily. Taking your vehicle into a licensed repair shop for fluid level checks is always a smart idea if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

4.   Inspect the Electrical System

The high temperatures from the summer can damage a vehicle’s battery. If your battery shorts out, the entire electrical system of your vehicle will fail and you won’t be able to drive. Besides the fact that this will mean no air conditioning while potentially stranded somewhere on the side of the road, it also means your car won’t be able to start at all.

Other common automotive problems due to a poor battery in summer are caused by the liquid electrolyte solution evaporating inside the battery. When this happens, your battery has a difficult time holding a charge and can lead to corrosion. Before summer arrives, it’s best to get your battery checked by a licensed repair facility or test it yourself if you know how.

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Typical Pricing for Preventative Maintenance

While the above maintenance tasks may seem tedious and easy to overlook, they are all relatively inexpensive tasks. Understanding the typical pricing for each task can help you better prepare for your summer maintenance.

Tire Pressure

Believe it or not, but checking your tire pressure can be relatively cheap or even free if you have the correct tools at home. Additionally, most gas stations have tire pressure stations where you can test the pressure yourself. Some cars even come with the ability to read tire pressure from the driver’s seat, so check your owner’s manual to see if that’s an option.

Total Cost: $ (Low)

Cooling System Check

It can be challenging to tell if coolant is leaking somewhere in your vehicle from a visual perspective. However, many repair shops are willing to run a pressure test to determine any leaks in the system. Depending on your vehicle and the repair facility, the estimated range for this price will usually vary between $26-$33. While this pricing may increase or decrease depending on certain factors, it’s a relatively inexpensive maintenance item that can save your engine from overheating.

Total Cost: $ (Low)

Fluid Check or Top Off

Visually inspecting the fluids under the hood is entirely free and can be done in less than 10 minutes if you know what you are looking for. If you are unfamiliar with checking your vehicle’s fluid levels, taking it in for a checkup at a local facility won’t be expensive either. However, if you do need significant refilling, certain fluids will be expensive to top off. For example, transmission fluid can cost around $200-$250 to refill fully, whereas oil change may only cost $50. Fortunately, more expensive fluids shouldn’t need to be topped off for years unless there’s a leak, but it’s worth getting your vehicle checked.

Total Cost: $-$$$ (Varies depending on fluid and necessary levels)

Electrical System Inspection

You can test your car’s battery completely free if you purchase a multimeter. As with tire pressure, many cars can also come with a sensor that can tell you how much life your car’s battery has left. Checking your battery before summer starts is an excellent choice and won’t cost you anything.

Total Cost: $ (Low)

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How to Save Money with Summer Maintenance

Not every preventative maintenance task for common car breakdowns are cheap, so it’s beneficial to see just how much money these small investments may save you in the future. Here are some costs associated with more serious common car problems that can result from taking no preventative action:

  • New Tires: Depending on your vehicle, a new tire can cost anywhere from $100-$300, whereas a tire rotation that protects all four tires will only cost around $20-$120. With the help of EnduranceAdvantage, you can avoid these costly repairs with the help of two free tire repairs or replacements every year.
  • Engine Overheating: Blown engines, radiators, head gaskets, and more causes for common car breakdowns from overheating or a lack of fluid can cost anywhere from $500-$1500.
  • New Battery: A new car battery may only cost $50-$120, however, you can significantly improve your battery life by regularly checking it for potential issues — helping you save more the longer you own your vehicle.

Other problems can happen under the hood due to the summer heat, and taking preventative action is the best way to keep your car healthy.

How Endurance Can Help

Proactive car maintenance can help to prevent serious issues caused by the summer heat. To avoid significant repairs impacting your wallet, Endurance can help you find the best protection plan for your vehicle at pricing you can afford.

Choose an EnduranceAdvantage plan and receive the most comprehensive coverage available today, as well as up to $3,500 in maintenance costs. Each Endurance protection plan also comes with a free year of Elite Benefits that can help you save even more on standard car repairs and maintenance tasks, such as key fob replacement, limited tire repairs, and so much more.

To learn more about how Endurance can help protect your vehicle today, fill out a free, no-obligation quote or visit our Learning Center to find more insightful and helpful articles.

A Vehicle Service Contract (VSC) is often referred to as an “auto warranty” or an “extended car warranty,” but it is not a warranty. A VSC does, however, provide repair coverage for your vehicle after the manufacturer’s car warranty expires. A VSC is a contract between you and a VSC provider or administrator that states what is a covered repair and what is not. Not all vehicles qualify for coverage; Endurance does not offer VSCs in California.