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Beat the Traffic: Maintain your car, save money in hot weather

by Katherine Whaley / KHOU 11 News

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 23 at 2:56 PM

HOUSTON -- When the temperature soars, so can repair costs for your car.  Mechanic Ken Sanders of CAP Automotive in Pasadena said that you can save a lot of money by giving your car a "check up" prior to that intense summer driving.  Sanders says if you don't take steps to prevent problems, you could face costly and complicated problems.  "Before you know it you're replacing the whole cooling system," he explains.

Karmen Meza, one of Sanders's clients, has been taking her sedan for regular inspections for the last three years.  For Meza, it's an issue of safety.  "You don't want to break down especially being a woman on the Houston freeways, its just not a safe place to be," she said.

Sanders says you can do a quick scan of your car yourself, or schedule a check-up with your mechanic.  If you go the do-it-yourself route, take a look at this list of items to inspect:

1. Check fluid levels.  They evaporate more quickly in the summer.

2. Give the belts and hoses a good squeeze.  If you feel a crumbling sensation or a cracking sensation, they need to be replaced.  High temperatures can cause them to rot at a faster rate.  If a belt hasn't been changed, and it breaks, you can actually lose control of the car

3.  Inspect your tires.  Test the inflation, check for cracks along the side, and look at the side walls for dry rot

If you are looking to save time and money, have your mechanic check the fluid levels and the hoses during a regular oil change.  Sanders says it's a small price to pay for big savings down the road.  "You're looking at thousands of dollars versus a couple hundred bucks to change a few hoses," he said.

Just take it from Karmen.  "On the last car that I had, I had over 300,000 miles on it... if you maintain them well they last a long time."

She knows that to beat the traffic and the heat, you have to avoid a breakdown.