Regular car maintenance
can help your vehicle’s interior, exterior, and mechanical components last longer and perform better. Whether you’ve just purchased a newer sports car or you’re still driving your old, reliable truck, use these car care tips to prevent faded paint, a damaged air conditioner, and other issues.
Why Protect Your Vehicle from the Sun?
Temperatures can reach high levels in Las Vegas, but the interior of your car can become even hotter. High temperatures can dry out leather seats, discolor your paint job, and promote oxidation.
In extreme cases, your battery, air filter, and air conditioner can also become damaged. Beat the heat this summer and enjoy a well-maintained vehicle that keeps you cool as you commute or explore the beautiful Las Vegas area.
There are two basic ways that the sun damages your vehicle: UV rays and heat. Direct sunlight exposes your vehicle to UV rays, which can fade your interior and exterior. Increased temperatures are also problematic, so it’s best to find a way to avoid both effects of the summer sun.
Parking Tips for Hot Climates
Finding the ideal parking spot is a great way to reduce the interior temperature of your vehicle and UV ray exposure. Direct sunlight is particularly damaging to your vehicle, so look for a parking spot in the shade. A shaded spot may not always be easy to find or convenient, but it can help prevent additional exposure to UV rays.
This is particularly important at work and at home. A quick stop at a convenience store won’t affect your vehicle very much, but eight hours of direct sunlight can be problematic.
Waxing and Washing
Do you have uneven wear on your exterior paint? Dirt and debris can affect the ways that sunlight interacts with your paint job. Heat and debris together can create unevenly faded paint. If debris on your vehicle begins to scratch your paint, direct sunlight can encourage oxidation and rust.
Wash and wax your vehicle routinely to keep it looking new and vibrant. Use specialized car shampoo to pamper your ride. A microfiber cloth gently wipes the surface of your paint without leaving streaks or scrapes. A garden hose can rinse off most debris, but tough stains and contaminants may need a pressure washer.
After a good scrubbing, waxing your car is an excellent way to protect its surface from UV rays and prevent additional damage. Try to wax your vehicle twice a year or more if it’s exposed to lots of dirt and debris. High-quality car wax creates a layer of protection against UV damage and debris. Washing and waxing is about far more than looks; it’s a great way to prevent rust and other structural damage to your car’s body.
If the wax isn’t enough of a protective coat, consider investing in protection film. This invisible film product works even more effectively at protecting your exterior from scratches, dust, debris, and even dents.
You can pick up a DIY protection film kit or stop by a car care service provider for a professional application. This protective investment is great for vehicles that are exposed to a good deal of dust and grime daily.
Tires are an overlooked part of your vehicle when it comes to summer protection. While not as obvious as damage to your interior or your paint job, heat can weaken the rubber structure of your tires and make it more likely to tear.
This is especially true when driving on hot asphalt or driving with under-inflated or over-inflated tires. Keep all four tires on the road and ready to ride by checking on them routinely. Ask a qualified mechanic to inspect them for signs of wear and inflation issues.
If you do experience a blown tire, invest in quality replacements to avoid the same issue this summer. Durable tires prevent heat from causing a tear or other issues.
Windshield and Interior Protection
Protect your windshield and interior from the damaging effects of direct sunlight. Your windshield is the largest area that exposes your car’s interior to UV rays. It can also magnify rays and dramatically increase the interior temperature of your vehicle.
When the interior surfaces of your car heat up, they can fade and crack. A cracked dashboard, steering wheel, or leather seats can decrease the value of your vehicle and make the interior uncomfortable.
Find out how you can invest in a few affordable products to save your seats and keep the value of your vehicle. Sunshades, tinting, and routine cleaning are great ways to protect the interior of your vehicle.
A cost-effective summer car care product is a sunshade. Sunshades come in a wide range of sizes and designs. Some shades easily fold up and are convenient to store, while others are made of thick material and offer more insulation and protection.
Basically, a sunshade is designed to reflect UV rays and heat. Reflective material spread across your entire windshield, rear window, and side windows block rays and heat. These affordable products are great while your vehicle is parked, but completely block your vision while driving.
Tinted windows have always been a stylish option for vehicles, but this service is also a practical way to reduce UV exposure in your vehicle. Block harmful rays with a professional tinting process by a reliable auto repair shop.
Check out local laws for the type of tinting available in your area. Many areas require tinting to remain at a particular percentage. Your local auto shop will know the laws in your area and can assist you in a quality service that is road legal.
Don’t Forget to Detail Your Car’s Interior!
Dust and debris on the interior of your vehicle can be affected by heat in the same way as your exterior. Take time to clean your dashboard, seats, and steering wheel with quality automotive wipes or cleaning solution. Routine cleaning is far easier than trying to remove baked-on dirt and debris at the end of the season.
Focus on the Seats and Dash
The intense heat on a dirty dashboard can create uneven wear and other issues. Just like your paint job, spend additional time on these essential areas of your interior. A microfiber cloth or specialized cleaning wipe cleans without drying or scratching your dash.
Seat covers or leather wipes can provide the same protection for your seating. Dried out leather is uncomfortable and can start to crack. Look for affordable seat covers to increase the padding of your seats while protecting them from harmful rays.
Finally, it’s important to keep up with your mechanical maintenance in the summer. Intense heat can affect your battery, and extra dust in the air can quickly clog your air filter. As you crank up your AC, be sure it’s ready to provide clean, cool air all summer. A new air filter may be all you need to prevent engine damage or air conditioner damage.
According to State Farm, internal vehicle temperatures can reach up to 195 degrees when parked in direct sunlight. Keep your ride looking shiny and new with the second batch of smart sun protection car care tips.
Provide Air Flow for Your Vehicle
You already know you should park in the shade when the Las Vegas sun is beating down, if at all possible. This is especially important when you'll be leaving your car in the same location for several hours. In addition, you should open each window just a crack before exiting and locking your vehicle. Doing so can lower the car's internal temperature and prevent heat from climbing to its peak.
Since the sun will move around throughout the day, your shady morning spot might end up on the bright side of the street. For best results, consider an underground parking garage to take advantage of the cavelike coolness. If you have a garage at home, that's where you should park.
Condition Your Leather
If your car has leather seats, you probably have elevated concerns about the sun's impact on your upholstery. After all, sun and heat can cause the leather to crack, fade, and look generally unappealing. In addition to the seat covers we recommended in part one of this article, you should also condition your leather upholstery regularly using a product specifically designed for that purpose. Do a spot test first to make sure the formula doesn't have unwanted effects on the material before adding this to your summer car care regimen.
Get Under the Hood When You Have To
Last time, we discussed the importance of changing your vehicle's air filters, so your climate control system doesn't get overtaxed when the mercury starts to climb. That isn't the only maintenance task you should complete before summer hits the desert, however. Optimize your car's performance through September and beyond with these steps:
Remove Items You Don’t Need
- Drain and replace coolant and antifreeze on a schedule recommended by your car manufacturer. For most new cars, the coolant lasts for 60,000 to 100,000 miles, so you won't need this maintenance too often. When these levels get low, however, your vehicle can overheat. Car Talk notes that coolant leaks may result from a broken water pump or heater core, so have those components checked if you notice an issue.
- Check and change the engine belts according to manufacturer recommendations. When the temperature climbs, the material that comprises the belts can crack, damage, or blister, which can cause a vehicle breakdown.
- Check fluid levels and top off brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and motor oil when levels get low.
- Have a professional check your car's battery to make sure it has plenty of life left since frequent AC use and high temperatures can drain its power.
We talked about the importance of wiping your dash and interior surfaces regularly. When left untouched, dust and debris can become permanently affixed to your car's cabin, making the finishes look dull and dingy. In addition to this step, avoid leaving unneeded items in your vehicle in hot weather. Remove garbage and drinks to keep your lunch from becoming a serious mess. Take out plastic water bottles, lighters, and anything else that could melt when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Cover Your Car When You Can
We already covered the need to park in the shade, but what if that's not an option in your neighborhood or work location? Consider a car cover specifically designed to shield your paint job from damaging UV rays. These blanket-like inventions can protect your car from the sun and heat as well as dirt, leaves, and other debris. Before buying, make sure to choose a cover that actually fits your car.
Install Thermal Mats & Headliners
Thermal automotive mats are designed to protect your car's interior components from heat damage. For best results, work with a professional since you must remove your car's headliner and place the mat beneath the hood.
Pack an Emergency Kit Just in Case
Although a vehicle emergency kit is most often associated with winter safety, you should also have these items in your car throughout the seasons. Double-check your kit and make sure you have:
- A first aid kit
- Nonperishable food items, like energy bars
- Bottled water
- Road flares
- A flashlight
- An extra cell phone battery and charger
- Jumper cables
- A white flag
- A tire pressure gauge
- A vehicle jack
- An extra set of clothes
- Work gloves
- Any medications you take
- Extra towels
If you do break down, you'll be happy you prepared.
Avoid Side Streets - Take the Highway
Poorly maintained side streets could wreak havoc on your tires during the dog days of summer. Instead, opt for the smooth pavement of the highway if you have a choice.
Check and Adjust Your Tire Pressure
As we mentioned in part one of this article, filling your tires sufficiently helps keep your car in optimal working order during the summer months by preventing blowouts. However, did you know that you should also inflate your tires to the maximum recommended pressure when your vehicle has an extra load? That applies to your luggage on vacation, as well as anything you're towing behind the car or truck, such as a camper or boat.
Check for Vehicle Safety Recalls
If your car has an issue, find out before you set off on your vacation adventure. It's simple: enter the VIN or make and model of your vehicle at NHTSA.gov/Recalls
to see if you need any repairs. You can even send alerts for your vehicle to your email at NHTSA.gov/Alerts
Replace Your Wiper Blades
The rubber that effectively moves water from the windshield degrades in the summer heat. You'll notice warping, peeling, and cracking. Be prepared for the next big storm by getting a new set before temperatures rise.
Maintain Your Floor Mats
If you often head to the beach or take your car to hiking trails, you may end up with sandy or muddy floor mats. Clean them right away to prevent the debris from setting in and staining the interior of your vehicle. When the sun shines through the windows, dirt effectively becomes baked into mats and upholstery.
When you need new floor mats
, take out the old ones first and thoroughly clean the carpet. Make sure the new mats are made specifically for your car or SUV. Check your owner's manual for information about how to install mats properly. Mats that do not fit correctly become a safety hazard.
Check the Thermostat and Cooling Fan
If you've been driving your car for more than five years, the thermostat may be nearing the end of its life. Have your mechanic make sure it’s in optimal condition to avoid overheating your engine. When your vehicle tends to overheat in traffic or when you run the air conditioner, the cooling fan may need a replacement. A nonworking air conditioner is another telltale sign. If you don't hear the fan running when you turn on the air conditioner and open the hood, it doesn't work.
Stay On Top Of Scheduled Oil Changes
Make sure to follow manufacturer recommendations closely in the summer months when it comes to oil changes. You may also want to investigate high-viscosity oils if you frequently haul cargo with your truck or large SUV. Ask your mechanic about the best options for your vehicle if you tend to tow heavy items.
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