There's nothing as pleasurable as driving in the summer, but if you don't take precautions, soaring temperatures could mean trouble for your vehicle, for you and for your passengers. Taking a few minutes - now - before the weather gets too hot will ensure you don't run into problems down the road.

Keep the engine cool
While your engine cooling system shouldn't need maintenance very often, making sure you have enough coolant is essential when the temperatures start to climb. Have your cooling system checked by your mechanic if you don't know how to do it yourself.

Consult the owner's manual before topping it off, as the manufacturer may recommend a specific coolant-water ratio. While you're looking at the manual, see when the engine coolant should be changed. This can vary depending on the vehicle's make and model, as well as the type of coolant you use; often it's every two to six years, or 24,000 to 100,000 miles. And that - obviously - is quite a range.

Check the tires
Half of the cars on the road this summer will have at least one under-inflated tire. This can dangerous on a hot day, because an under-inflated tire is more sensitive to the heat and you can risk a blowout. Regardless of season it's a good idea to check your tire pressure at least once a month. To find your car's recommended tire pressures check the owner's manual, or look for a sticker usually found in the driver's door jamb. Use these recommendations instead of those found on the side of the tires. Some - but not many - vehicles require different pressures for the front and rear tires.

Check your battery
Hot temperatures - more than cold - can shorten the life of your battery. The heat causes the battery fluid to evaporate, which can lead to a weak battery and corroded connections. If your battery is over three years old have it tested by your mechanic.

Those with electric cars should remember that extreme hot or cold weather can drastically affect battery efficiency. In extreme heat, the mileage per charge could be reduced by as much as 40 percent, so it's important to gauge your travel between recharging accordingly.

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