Winter Texans Henry and Olga returned to their Valley home last November to fine the car they’d left behind over the summer with an out-of-date safety sticker, a flat tire and a couple of brackish brown and red puddles of fluid under the vehicle. What’s more, the darn thing wouldn’t start. Scenarios like these can be avoided when a few small things are done on your car prior to leaving the Valley and heading for your “summer home.”

Have your radiator flushed and add new anti-freeze. Have your brake and power steering fluids topped off along with your windshield washer fluid. Have your oil changed, too. Summer heat will break down these fluids whether your vehicle is driven or just sits. Have your battery checked and get the cables and terminals cleaned. Most auto centers will do this for no charge to you. Fix any and all leakers. Like rattles, leaks tend to get worse in the hot summer as seals and gaskets dry up and shrink. These won’t reseal when hot fluids return in normal winter driving. Fill your gas tank only half full. Gas will expand and become stale in the heat when your car is mostly idle. Inflate all the tires, including the spare, with 5 more pounds than what’s listed (applies to cold tires) on the driver’s side door jam. Tires slowly leak and lose are over the summer. Grease the windshield wipers with vaseline or oil from that extra quart of motor oil you should already be carrying in your trunk, along with a rag and a funnel. Remove all excess weight from the trunk, like dead batteries, old tires, that spare set of golf clubs and any containers with fluids. Park the car under an awning, if possible, and crack open a window on each side of the car for cross ventilation. Before locking the car and setting the parking brake, turn off all accessories like the air conditioner, cell phone chargers and radio. Make sure the safety sticker (That’s the bottom one.) will not expire over the summer. If it will, renew it before you leave. Leave the current insurance, vehicle registration and lock tool for your tires in your glove compartment. Finally, have a good friend who lives year-round in your park drive your car WEEKLY. Have that person drive it to the grocery store as well as at the maximum speed limit on the expressway. Don’t forget to leave both your ignition and trunk key as well as the key for locking the gas cap with that good friend.

This article was provided to The Original Winter Texan by Ben Abbitt, on-site owner/manager of RGV All Tune and Lube, 617 N. McColl Road, McAllen. Call 682-8863 for more information.