By Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Winter driving can be tough on cars, with its icy roads and salt buildup. But summer has its hazards, too. The heat stresses the engine, wears down the tires and makes the car work harder to keep everything cool.
Here are five steps to help your car make it through the summer.
1. Be kind to your engine.
Your engine gets hot very quickly in the summer. You can save a lot of trouble — and expense — by doing some routine checks to make sure it stays lubricated and cooled. Check the oil level and make sure the oil looks clean. If it doesn't, get an oil change. Sears will change it for less than $20. Also look for cracks in the hoses, which pump coolant from the radiator to the engine block.
2. Replace your fluids.
Many drivers don't think about fluids beyond their motor oil. But your car also has coolant for the engine in the radiator, and fluids for the transmission and brakes.
They're critical for keeping parts lubricated and preventing your engine from overheating. Over time, all of them lose their effectiveness and get dirty, with little metal parts floating in the liquid.
"Coolant starts to eat everything. It becomes like an acid," says Hisham Ebrahim, a mechanic at Fawzi's Westgate Auto Repair in Ann Arbor, Mich. Both low fluid levels and old fluid can damage the parts in your car.
If you follow your car's maintenance schedule, you shouldn't have to worry about fluid levels, which are often checked and replaced around 60,000 miles.
Ebrahim says it costs about $200 to $300 to flush out and replace all the fluids. That can be far less expensive than the alternative: An overheated engine or blown transmission.