5 tips to prep your car for Birmingham’s sizzling summers from an automotive specialist

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Summer drives in Birmingham. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Summers in Birmingham are H.O.T. hot. Before you head out on the road during the hottest months of the year, Driver’s Way specialist Keith Johnson has five important tips to ensure your car is in tip-top shape.

1. Become Friends with Your Owners Manual

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Atiq Bhatti, Driver’s Way. Photo via Patience Itson for Bham Now

If you’re like me, you wish you could just buy a car and have it work well and last forever. But no matter what vehicle you get, they all need maintenance to keep them in top-top shape. 

How do you keep up with when your vehicle needs to be serviced? 

Johnson’s recommendation: follow the guidelines listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. 

Yes, that paper booklet that every vehicle comes with does serve a purpose. 

Inside, you’ll find all the information you need about your car, including:

  • Proper tire pressure
  • When to change the oil 
  • What your warning lights mean
  • How to check fluids
  • And more!

So be sure to use it so you can hit the roads around Birmingham all summer long. 

2. Stay On Top of Oil Changes

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Bekah Blankenship checking oil in car. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

When you own a car, whether brand new or barely running, there’s one thing you will always be advised to do—change the oil regularly. Why are oil changes such a big deal? Think of it this way—motor oil is to cars like water is to humans. It’s vital.

Your car’s engine requires motor oil for two main reasons:

  1. To keep the engine cool.
  2. To keep the engine’s internal parts working smoothly.

Going too long between oil changes can cause engine parts to become damaged. Your engine may even run out of oil. And no oil in your car’s engine will cause problems like overheating. It can also lead to expensive repairs and even engine replacements. 

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Oil check. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Now that is something I do not want to put on my summer bucket list. Especially when Birmingham has so many great summer events to attend.

So when should you change your oil? 

Johnson’s recommendation: every three to five thousand miles.

If you have a newer vehicle (produced within the past five years), your vehicle will tell you itself when needs its oil changed. Newer vehicles feature sophisticated computer systems that track your mileage, drive cycle times and the temperature of your oil. When it’s time for your car to be serviced, it will tell you so via reminder lights.

According to Johnson, “When that reminder comes on, it’s important to have your car serviced as soon as possible.”

Otherwise you risk the engine problems mentioned above.

If you have an older vehicle, you’ll have to use the old-school method of actually keeping track of your vehicle’s mileage.

3. Test Your Battery

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Under the hood. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Do you worry about your car’s battery during winter? Well it turns out that you should actually sweat over your battery during summer. 

According to Johnson, “Heat is as hard, if not harder, on a battery than the cold, especially as a battery ages.”

If you can’t remember the last time you checked or replaced your car’s battery, there’s no better time than before you hit those Birmingham highways when the temperatures are at their highest.

4. Check Your Air Conditioning

As Southerners, there is one thing we all depend upon during the summer months—air conditioning! And we want it cold, powerful and continuous. This is especially true when driving. 

Can you imagine being stuck in stop-and-go traffic on I-65 South or Highway 280 without good air conditioning? The mere thought makes me start to sweat.

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Highway 280. Photo by Bham Now

There are a number of reasons why your car’s AC may not be working as it should, such as problems with the condenser or a clogged cabin filter. So what do you do?

Johnson’s recommendation: if your car’s air conditioning feels warmer than usual after running it for 15 to 20 minutes, have it checked by a professional.

5. Check Your Cooling System 

Did you know that overheating is the number one cause of breakdowns during the summer months? Yikes! I definitely wouldn’t want to be stranded on the side of the road in this heat. 

Luckily, there is something you can do to stop this from happening—have your cooling system checked. 

Johnson’s recommendation: have your cooling system every two to three years.

Service Your Car at Driver’s Way

Where can you get your car prepped for summer in Birmingham? At Driver’s Way, of course! Find it in Pelham and on Highway 280. 

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