As experienced Scottsdale realtors, we know that many of you looking for homes for sale in the Scottsdale area may not be familiar with Valley of the Sun’s climate. Please read these car care tips and learn how to stay comfortable and safe in the desert sun.
Insufficient car maintenance is the number one reason motorists end up stranded by the side of the road. Summer is the busiest driving season of the year, and drivers should take the time to perform a quick maintenance check before setting off on a road trip. “Arizona’s dry climate takes a toll on vehicles”, said Jim Prueter, AAA senior vice president of automotive services.
Hot weather can shorten the life of a car’s battery. In Arizona, the average battery lasts 28 months. You should have your car’s battery tested each spring. A qualified service facility can perform a battery load test, as well as cleaning and checking the battery terminals and connections. The battery should also be checked for corrosion or cracks. The voltage regulator should be tested to make sure the battery is charging properly. Most new batteries are sealed, but if your car’s battery is not, make sure to check the battery fluid levels as well. Â Keep all battery receipts and warranties in the car, in case you need battery service or replacement when you are away from home. Battery warranties usually outlive the battery in this climate, so you may receive some credit toward the purchase of a new battery.
Don’t forget to change the oil and filter according to the specific recommendations in your automobile owner’s manual. If you are going to be driving under extreme conditions, check with the manufacturer about switching to oil with a higher viscosity to protect your engine.
Rotate your vehicle’s tires every 6000 to 7500 miles and have the alignment checked. Check the tire pressure and tread and sidewall wear each month. Read the owner’s manual and make sure your tires are at the recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires can overheat and fail, especially in hot weather. You can fill your tires with either compressed air or nitrogen. Nitrogen expands at a more predictable and consistent rate than compressed air, making it easier to achieve and maintain proper tire pressure. If you convert from compressed air to nitrogen, you can extend tire life as much as 25%. For more information on inflating your tires with nitrogen, visit www.getnitrogen.org.
Know the age of your vehicle’s cooling system hoses, belts, thermostats and clamps. They should be replaced every 3 to 4 years. The cooling system should be tested and flushed each year before the start of summer.
Replace windshield wiper blades at least once a year. In extreme heat, the blades can become ragged and brittle, or the blades can melt and attach to the window. Be sure to check the rear wipers as well.
Have your vehicle’s air-conditioning system checked for maximum efficiency before the temperatures rise into the triple-digit range. If you notice that the air conditioning system does not blow cool air or if you hear unusual noises when the system is operating, have it serviced right away.
The old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to your car weathering the Valley’s summers. Please read on for travel safety tips.
- Always carry extra water for yourself and any passengers or pets in your car. You also need to carry water for your vehicle, in case it overheats.
- Take a cell phone with you, and make sure it is charged and ready, just in case you need it in an emergency. Calling 911 from a cell phone may not get you local assistance, so be prepared with phone numbers you can call in an emergency.
- Know the number of your road-side assistance service, if you have one. It is a good idea to always carry your membership card along with your insurance information, and understand the limits of your coverage. Some companies provide road-side mechanic services only during daylight hours, so be prepared to have your vehicle towed if the problem goes beyond a simple jump-start.
- Take some time to familiarize yourself with the steps to jumpstart a car battery. http://Autobatteries.com has an interactive feature that allows you to “practice” the process. You can also print out the procedure and store this in your emergency roadside kit (see below).
- Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated.
- Start your road trip with a full tank of gas. Be realistic about the distance you can travel between fill-ups, especially in remote areas.
- If you are embarking on a road trip, let someone know where you are going and when you should arrive. If you are traveling through a remote area, let someone know the route you plan to take.
- Keep an umbrella in your vehicle. This can be used to provide shade while you are waiting for roadside assistance to arrive.
- Purchase or assemble an emergency roadside kit to keep in your vehicle. The kit should contain:
- 12-foot jumper cables or a self-contained jump box
- four 15-minute roadside flares
- first-aid kit
- flashlight with extra batteries
- Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers
- pliers, vise grips, adjustable wrench
- tire pressure gauge and tire inflator
- rags and/or a roll of paper towels
- duct tape
- pocket knife
- pen and paper
- reflective HELP sign
- granola bars (or other non-chocolate, non-perishable snacks)
- 2 quarts of motor oil
- spray bottle of washer fluid