07/06/2012 06:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 05, 2012

Summer Car Care Tips

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Although winter car care gets more publicity, there's no reason to neglect your car come summer time just because the weather is nice. Car maintenance is a year-round thing, and we're looking at a few things you can do during summer time to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Avoid Sun Damage: If you can, garage your car or cover it to avoid too much damage from the sun, which can fade paint (along with interior materials) over time. The sun doesn't just age humans, it affects cars, too.

Switch Oil Weight (if applicable): This is more important on older cars, since newer cars are more likely to run synthetic blends or oil weights that are suited for year-round use. On many older vehicles, it's best to use a thinner oil in the winter (so the oil can flow more easily) and a thicker one that protects engine components better when it's hot out and oil flows more easily. The best way to take care of this is to simply change oil weights when performing your spring and fall oil changes.

Keep it Clean: Summer doesn't provide as many cosmetic challenges as snowy winters do, but it's still best to wash your car (and wax, if need be) fairly often, especially if it rained since your last wash. Getting bird droppings, rain residue, and construction dust off your car will help it last longer.

Keep it Cool: Most newer cars have fairly reliable A/C systems, but older cars may need a recharge before the hot summer starts. At the very least, having a technician give the system a once-over can help prevent future problems. Keeping it cool also refers to coolant -- keeping an eye on your engine's cooling system could help you avoid overheating.

Change Your Wipers: Windshield wipers should be changed out every spring and fall, so they can be at their best in nasty weather. Summer downpours do happen, and fresh wiper blades can make a huge difference between seeing and not seeing.

Swap Your Tires: If you have all-season tires, you have nothing to worry about, but if you have a performance car that use summer tires during the warm-weather months, now is the time to put the winter tires away. This isn't just to enhance performance -- winter tires are softer and they wear faster during the summertime. Yes, swapping tires twice a year isn't cheap, but then again, if you own a car that requires it, you can probably afford it.

Look at the Big Picture: Above all, it's best to keep up with regular maintenance. You should be changing your oil, rotating your tires, and performing other tasks based on the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule, and you should be checking your oil and tire pressures every so often, regardless of weather conditions. Summer is road-trip time, so it's imperative that you don't slack on basic maintenance just because it's a lazy summer day. And don't forget the emergency kit--breakdowns happen in summertime too.

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