Ever had a van full of kids, halfway through a day in the car to get somewhere great – and your air conditioner goes out? I can’t think of a better recipe for disaster, personally. Not only do you have to contend with the whining and crying – and that’s just from your wife – but you have kids hanging out of every window like a bunch of golden retrievers. If this scenario isn’t enough to get you to check your cooling system, I don’t know what will. The key to driving in the summer is to keep the engine cool. Cars run hot, they’re designed that way, but there’s a limit to how hot they should run. There are a number of things you have to keep on top of things so you can make sure that the engine doesn’t get too hot. The first thing you need to do is check the belts and the hoses in your car. Check the hoses to make sure there are no cracks, leaks or loose connections anywhere, especially at the clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine. The hoses should also be firm, not soft. As for belts, you can easily see what’s going on with your belts visually. If a belt looks very smooth or sort of shiny, you may have to take it off to make sure it isn’t starting to separate into different layers. Once you’ve gone through these, check the coolant in your cooling system and make sure the levels are good. In the summer you need to use a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. It’s helpful if you can keep the kind of records that will tell you when you last had your radiator flushed and the coolant entirely replaced, because you need it done every two years. But if you’re the kind of owner that honestly can’t remember these kinds of things, come summertime, you might just want to go ahead and do it anyway. In the case of your engine’s cooling system and your air conditioner, the old saw about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really is true, annoying, but true.