Make sure you stay on top of your oil changes. This is particularly important in the summer, since a hot engine needs all the lubrication it can get, and at high temperatures your engine's oil is really getting put through the wringer. Our current recommendation is to change your oil every 5,000 miles — though that number may decrease dramatically if Kendall delivers with that check they keep promising.

A word about hauling big loads in the summer: Most car manufacturers will recommend 5W30 oil year-round. However, your owner's manual may have a recommendation for what's called "severe duty," such as pulling a trailer. In this case, you might want to switch over to a higher viscosity oil. Why? Well, under hot operating conditions, a thicker oil will thin out less quickly, making sure your engine stays well lubricated when it needs it most. If you do operate your vehicle under "severe duty" conditions, you should also consider changing the oil more frequently, because you're working it that much harder.

By the way, a lot of folks ask us about whether they should be using synthetic oil. Synthetics have a number of advantages over old-fashioned oil — most notably, they are less likely to breakdown when operating at high temperatures.

So, which should you use? Our advice is this: under most circumstances, we’d opt to use synthetic oil — in particular, if you have a high-end car, a high performance car, or if you happen to know that your model is prone to having the engine clog with varnish and other gunk. (Some Toyota V6 engines have been notorious for this problem.) In those cases, we’d recommend going the synthetic route.

If you’re already using traditional oil, and want to make the switch to synthetic, try using a blended oil which contains a mix of traditional and synthetic oils.

Synthetic oil remains a bit more expensive than regular oil. But, over the life of the car, the differential is probably not more than a few hundred bucks — and we think that's worth it.