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Four tips to keep your car going all summer

Elizabeth Mainwaring, Travis Auto Hobby Shop tools and parts attendant checks a car’s oil level  April 27 at the Auto Hobby Shop. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tyler Grimes)

Elizabeth Mainwaring, Travis Auto Hobby Shop tools and parts attendant checks a car’s oil level April 27 at the Auto Hobby Shop. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tyler Grimes)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The weather is warm, the bags are packed and there's not a cloud in the sky. It's a perfect day for a summer road trip; until the car won't start. Now your day of fun in the sun just got cut short by an expensive repair issue that could have been avoided with routine maintenance.

John Gray, Travis Auto Hobby Shop manager outlined four simple tips to keep your car on the road and money in your pocket this summer.

1. Ensure proper tire maintenance.

As the temperature rises during the summer months, your tires lose pressure. When this happens the tires drag as the car is in motion and the tread causes friction. This reduces the car's gas mileage and puts more strain on your car's engine.

It is recommended to check your tires with a gauge twice a month and before any long road trips. It is also important to inspect the tires for cracks, bubbles, blemishes and punctures as these can effect the pressure. To determine the correct tire pressure required for your car, look for a sticker inside the driver's side door. This sticker contains guidelines for proper tire pressure as per the manufacturer.

"A lot of times a tire will say 55 pounds, well that is its max," Gray said. "Not the recommended inflation."

2. Check the battery.

With car batteries comes the possibility of corrosion. Check for rust around the battery cables. If a white powdery substance is visible, corrosion is present. Corrosion can lead to bad cables and shorter battery life. Taking care of your car's battery is especially crucial in the summer months.

"Excessive heat combined with corroded (cables) will end a battery's life very fast," Gray said.

A simple glance at the battery can help you avoid poor gas mileage or even worse a dead battery; leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

3. Monitor the cooling system.

The cooling system is designed to prevent the vehicle from overheating. If it does overheat due to neglect, it could ruin the car's engine and cause serious injury.
Examining the cooling system regularly is important because an overheated engine left uncheck can be very costly, he said.

"You're in the $4,000 to $5,000 range and up," he said. "You're talking big money for a small thing."

The way to avoid these problems is to observe the radiator once the car has had time to cool down. The time it takes for the vehicle to cool down will vary but the items to inspect are the same. Check the level of radiator fluid, make sure the water is at the full line in the overflow bottle and look at the hoses to see if they are properly connected to radiator.

4. Keep up with the air conditioner.

A popular misconception about air conditioner systems is that you only need to take care of it in the summer. Not true.

"People think in the winter 'well I don't need to worry about my (air conditioner) until the summer,'" Gray said. "By that time, it's usually too late."

Another falsehood about air conditioners is they are only use to cool the car. The system also helps defrost the car when it's cold by removing the moisture from the air.

"So even when you think it's not pumping cold air and the heat is up, it's still working," Gray said.

Gray stresses that these tips are preventive measures that if followed can keep you out of the repair shop and on the road this summer.

For more information on these tips, pre-trip inspections and other services provided at the Auto Hobby Shop call 424-5300.

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