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Car maintenance crucial for summer season

By Ashliegh Gehl


BELLEVILLE, ON. (07/26/11) Checking tire pressure is just one of many routine checks drivers should do before hitting the road on a hot day. Photo illustration by Ashliegh Gehl

Preparing your car for summer is a lot like preparing your car for winter, say experts.

Paul Datzkiw, CAA South Central Ontario technical advisor, has helped people get their cars ready for the last 25-years.

“The cooling system is the greatest cause of any breakdown in the summertime,” he said.

Belts and hoses, battery failure and a flat tire top Datzkiw’s list of common service calls his department receives this time of year.

“You’re looking for soft spongy hoses. Belts that are cracked or worn,” he said.

When the weather gets warm it’s time to roll down the windows. It isn’t until those humid days in July and August, when an air condition inspection is out of mind, that drivers crank the A/C.

“Don’t assume that it’s working from last year,” he said. “A lot of things can happen to air conditioning systems that cause them to leak and not operate. And you wouldn’t know that until you got on the highway. You want to make sure that you have that checked, that it’s operating the way it’s supposed to and hopefully won’t fail on you while you’re out.”

The days of summer bring road trips; back county road excursions to the lake. Places where potholes are abundant and flat tires can easily happen. Double-checking to make sure a spare tire is onboard will save drivers the service call, said Datzkiw.

“The cables rot and they break and they drop the spare tire off. You may not even know your spare tire is missing except when you go to need it,”  he said.

Drivers should make it routine to check their tires for bulges, especially on days when the weather is abnormally hot.

“You can run very hot temperatures on your tires. That [the bulge] is the weakest spot on the tire. If you’re going to experience a blow, it’s going to be because of a weak spot.”

Bulges happen when drivers run over curbs and hit potholes. Check the tires when they’re cold, after the car has been sitting over night. The tires can then be set to manufacturer specifications located on the door jam of every vehicle.

Tire treads also need to be checked.

“There’s a quick way you can do it with a penny,” said Datzkiw. “Take a penny with the queen’s head. Insert it into the tread depth, the deepest part of the tire. If you can see the top of the Queen’s head, the tire is worn out.”