Summer time in California means bright sun, dry desert winds, and plenty of heat. This combination can take a toll on your car–it will tax your air conditioning unit, increase your risk of overheating, and wear out your tires more quickly! But a smart vehicle owner will take steps to protect their car in the hot California summer, so here are a few summer car care tips to help you keep your car in good shape:

1. Change your oil — Old, used oil is less effective at absorbing the heat generated by your engine, which means it will increase the chance of your car overheating. If you want to avoid engine and radiator trouble, take your car for an oil change. The new oil will handle the high heat better, reducing your risk of overheating even in the summer climate.

2. Slow down — If you’re the sort of driver who is always in a rush, there’s a very real chance you’ll cause your car to wear out more quickly this summer. The summer heat will take a toll on your brakes, tires, radiator, and engine, so all that rapid speeding up and braking is going to wear on the vehicle. Slow down to reduce the wear on your car. Don’t floor the gas at stoplights, but let the car pick up on its own. Don’t slam the brakes to stop, but slow down at a gradual pace. Your car will thank you!

3. Check your tires — In the summer, your tires may “overheat”, making tire blowouts much more likely. The road surface temperature can reach up to 150 degrees, which can heat up the air in your tires and cause them to expand. To avoid blowouts, make sure your tires are filled with the right air pressure, but not so much that they are likely to burst.

4. Keep your engine cool — Instead of idling in the car with the AC running, turn off the car and let the engine cool down. Try to avoid pushing the engine to its limits, and go easy on the car. The summer heat will increase the risk of overheating, so you need to do everything you can to keep the engine cool.

5. Get the A/C serviced — The last thing you want is to find yourself with no air conditioning when the summer heat rolls in. Make sure to give your A/C unit a thorough servicing in late spring.

6. Check your brakes — Always make sure your brakes are working well! If the brake pads are worn too thin, they won’t be able to stop your car in time. Keep your brakes in good working condition ALL year long.

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