May 2012

Car Care: Getting Your Kia Ready for Summer

Summer is on its way and that means the kids will be out of school and it’s time to hit the road. Whether you’re planning to visit family or see the sights all across America, taking a little bit of time now can help you avoid a lot of grief and hassle during what should be a fun vacation trip.
 
An important part of preventing crankiness from the back seat is making sure you have a comfortable cabin environment especially when the sun is beating down on you during a long interstate stretch. An important part of keeping attitudes cool is a fully functional air conditioning system.
 
Before packing the camping gear, coolers or suitcases, a few simple checks will tell you if a visit to the service department is called for. You’ll also want to make sure you do this well in advance of any trips just in case it takes a day or two to get parts.
 
Start the engine and crank the temperature control down to its minimum. Gradually increase the fan speed from off to high and make sure the system is capable circulating air through the cabin. Check all the vents to make sure nothing is broken or stuck. Check for any unusual smells that could be caused by either something in the system or just plain old mold and mildew. Smells can be taken care of by our staff and we can usually clean out the ducts as well.
 
If the fan isn’t working properly, make sure to check the fuses and replace any that might have blown. It’s also a good idea to keep a small package of spare fuses in the glove box just in case a circuit gets overloaded on the road. The owners manual should have a diagram that indicates which fuse handles which function.
 
Within a couple of minutes of starting you should feel nice cold air coming from the vents. If not, one of several problems could be the cause. The cheapest and easiest to repair is the belt the drives the air conditioning compressor. Over time these belts can dry out and crack or stretch so that the compressor won’t drive properly. Newer hybrid electric vehicles usually have electric drive compressors so they don’t have a belt.
 
If the belt is in good shape, the system may need a recharge. Over the course of several years of use, the refrigerant circuit can leak and lose pressure. When this happens it can’t chill the air passing through the cooling core. Recharging the air conditioning will get your climate control back to new condition.
 
The most serious problem is a bad compressor which can be expensive and time consuming to fix and your dealer is best prepared to handle that sort of work.
 
With the passenger environment taken care of, it’s time to check engine cooling system. Check the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual to see if your vehicle is due for a cooling system flush. Even if the cooling system doesn’t need a flush, check all the hoses for leaks or bulges that might indicate an impending failure.
 
When the engine is running, check the temperature gauge in the instrument panel and make sure the engine isn’t getting over about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is getting too high, that could indicate either a blockage somewhere or a stuck thermostat.
 
When you take a trip, it’s always fun to discover new things and have new experiences unless that leaves you stranded at the side of the road. Most people check the pressure of the four tires they roll on fairly regularly. Unfortunately most drivers neglect the spare tire. While checking your main tire pressures, go into the trunk and make sure the spare has air in it as well, just in case you get a flat on the road. If like most vehicles your vehicle is equipped with a mini spare, check the recommended pressure on the tire sidewall because these small donuts usually require higher pressures.
 
While you’re in the trunk, it’s a good idea to make sure you have an up-to-date first aid kit handy just in case someone has an accident. It’s also a good idea to check all of the exterior lights before leaving and replace burned out bulbs. Carrying a few extras can also get you out of a jam if a local constable notices a non-functional light.
 
It’s a good idea to make sure you have somewhere to call in an emergency when you travel. AAA is the traditional standby for roadside service, but many cell phone providers also provide very affordable service options that can bring you gas if you run out, jump start a dead battery or give you a tow.
 
Summer is a great time to visit family or see other parts of the country. In order to maximize the fun and keep stress to a minimum, take the time to make sure your ride is taken care of before you leave. Stop by and we’ll get your Kia summer ready in no time.

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