Other things that need to be inspected:
Visually check the hoses and belts related to the cooling system. Look for hoses that are too hard or too soft, or that have cracks in the rubber. Make sure that the hose clamps are tight, and check to see that the belts have the proper amount of tension, and are not cracked or worn. To check the tension, push down on the belt. It should deflect about 1/2 inch. On some cars and trucks, mostly older ones, they have a belt that turns the fan. On other cars, the cooling fan is electric.
All cars should be using antifreeze in the radiator, even in the summer. Why? Antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors, and actually has a higher boiling point than water. If you remember high-school chemistry, when two chemicals are mixed together, you end up with a boiling point that’s higher than either one of them separately. Water boils at around 200 degrees depending on elevation. Modern cars of today typically have normal operating temps of 200 to 230 degrees. If your coolant/antifreeze is not up to par, your vehicle will be boiling down the road.
Should you change your coolant before the summer hits? Most coolant these days is what’s called “lifetime” coolant, which means it’s good for 60,000 to 100,000 miles before it needs to be changed. Our experience has shown us that this is too long, and its long enough to be outside of most manufacturer’s warranty. We recommend that you have the cooling system inspected at each oil change, and have the coolant replaced every 2 to 3 years.
Another thing to consider is your vehicles thermostat. If you haven’t had your thermostat replaced, and your car is a few years old, we recommend to our customers that they get a new one when they’re having any cooling system repair done. A stuck thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating. Replacing the thermostat is relatively affordable, especially when you compare it to the cost of an engine. Replacing the thermostat could save you a breakdown somewhere between Seattle and Yellowstone. Trust me when I tell you that sitting on the side of I 90 in the middle of Montana is a miserable experience.