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You should prepare your car for summer. Here's how

Summer can put a lot of stress on your car. Here's what you should do to prepare.

Just like winter, summer can put a lot of stress on your car -- especially if you tow a boat, trailer or camper -- so it’s best to prepare it for the challenges ahead. Here are some items for you or your mechanic to check.

Check rubber items like radiator hoses and belts for signs of cracking or degradation. Summer heat and an overtaxed cooling system can put them over the edge.

Make sure your radiator and recovery tank are at the proper level and filled with the right mix of clean antifreeze and water. Open them only when they're cool.

Replace your wiper blades. It should be done every six months, and if they’ve been frozen to the windshield over the winter, peeling them off might have damaged them.

Check your air conditioning. With outside temps in the 70s or 80s, it should be between 35 and 45 degrees coming out of the vents. A/C tends not to die outright, but rather to lose effectiveness if it needs a refrigerant recharge. If it’s higher, it might not do the job midsummer--when the lines will be long at the service center.

Make sure your tires aren’t overly worn. If they are, don’t wait for winter. Grooves aren’t just for snow, they help to channel water away and prevent hydroplaning on wet pavement.

Wax your car. It will protect the paint from the sun’s harsh rays -- and the bird droppings you’re sure to attract by parking under a shade tree.