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Winter might get a bad rap in the auto-repair world, but summer can potentially be just as damaging to your vehicle, especially if your region regularly hits the triple digits. Before hitting the open road with the top down, it's a good idea to look into tuning up your car. That's why our experts at Caliber Collision have put together some tips on how to keep you down to earth on car maintenance before the mercury rises.

What's Inside Really Counts

Just like your own skin, vinyl and leather are susceptible to damage from the excess heat and UV rays that are all-too prevalent in the summer months. During this time, interior air temperatures can reach upwards of 145º F, and interior surfaces exposed to direct sunlight can hit a sizzling 200º F. With numbers like these, it's easy to see why protecting your interior should be a priority; one that can be taken care of with a few simple steps.

  • Finding a sun shade for your dashboard is second only to parking directly in the shade. More importantly, physical barriers actually block 100% of UV rays that can seriously damage vinyl and leather, and becomes second nature to put up after only a few uses.

  • Wipe down your dash with a microfiber cloth, since dust and dirt can cause microscopic scratches that worsen over time. Wiping your surfaces down with low-gloss detailing product once a week works wonders.

  • At interior temperatures upwards of 150º F, leather is easily the most vulnerable to damage in the summer. To help avoid cracks and tears in your seats, apply leather conditioner semi-regularly to keep them both clean and protected.

Bring The Juice

On a hot summer day, the last thing you'll want to hear (or not hear) is your engine failing to turn over. High temperatures and excessive accessory loads can do a number on your car battery. In fact, most winter battery troubles actually come from the drain created by summer weather. Thankfully, you can take several easy steps to help prevent that.

  • While the weather's still mild, have your battery and charging system checked to safeguard against any impending summer strandings.

  • If your battery is more than three years old, it's smart to check its condition regardless and look into replacing it before it gives out for good.

  • Even the best batteries need a clean connection to work. If you notice any corrosion around the battery's terminals, simply sprinkle some baking soda on them followed by a little water, then let that sit for an hour in the shade to wipe the buildup off.

Keep Your Cool

Rolling the windows down might alleviate some of the trapped hot air when you start your car, but there's nothing quite like an efficient air conditioning system when it comes to battling temperatures. Like all good things, most people don't worry about their AC until it's gone, and we've put together a few tips on how to keep your AC on it's A-game.

  • To keep your car from becoming an oven on wheels, pay attention to subtle changes like sporadic cool air and unusual sounds when turning it on. These are often the first sign of a failing air conditioner.

  • Since refrigerant is under high pressure and harmful to the atmosphere, it's best to leave any sort of check or maintenance to a qualified professional. Local auto shops can easily trap and recycle used refrigerant with the proper tools.

  • Have your maintenance engineer look over your compressor, evaporator and internal thermostat to make sure your system is at its peak. If anything's awry, go ahead and replace it now before things get toasty.

Hydrate Your Ride

A lesser-known fact among average drivers is that antifreeze goes by another name - coolant - and it's one of the most vital fluids under your hood during the summer. Staying up-to-date on your fluids is one of the most effective ways you can keep what's under the hood on top of its game.

  • Replacing your coolant is cheap insurance against extreme temperatures, and actually helps prolong your entire system by reducing corrosion.

  • Keeping your fluids fresh will put less stress on your vehicle's hardware, saving you serious money in the long run.

  • At your next oil change, check up on the rest of the routine maintenance you may have let slide over the past few months. It never hurts to show your ride a little extra love

There are plenty of ways you can maintain your vehicle throughout the year, and keeping simple tips like these in mind can save you miles of trouble in the future. However, if the heat does happen to hit your car a little harder than usual, our experts at Caliber are here to help. With over 600 locations nationwide, we'll never be too far away to restore the rhythm of your life and get you back on the road, wherever it happens to take you this summer.