Summer is finally here – in calendar form if not quite the weather yet, but that gives you a bit more time to get your car ready for summer for when the heat does hit… I realise this might be a little optimistic, but there is no point being any other way!
So – what is it about summer that means you have to prepare your car for it? Unlike winter with the obvious cold, ice and gritty conditions, low visibility and poor weather conditions, summer presents its own set of challenges for your car.
The increase in temperature, increase in dust and the stop-and-go traffic much more associated with summer will test your car and so you have to make sure it is ready. These elements will also be attacking your car right after it has come through a cold winter and a not too hot spring – so it is definitely a good idea to pay close attention to our tips.
Some of these tips are easy to do yourself; others will require the assistance of a skilled technician.
Air Conditioning – When you are cruising down a deserted motorway or barrelling round car free country lanes, you can have you windows down and let the summer breeze keep you cool – in reality, motorways are like car parks at holiday periods and the A roads are not much better. Having your windows down in a car that isn’t moving when there isn’t so much as a breath of wind won’t keep you cool. Properly functioning air condition will though! Get your system recharged to ensure it will keep you cool with your windows rolled up; keeping out all those fumes too. Check your owner’s manual for replacement and refilling intervals – Either replacing or recharging your air con is a job that should only be done by a professional.
Cooling System – We have discussed the ‘cooling system’ for the car passengers, but this is to do with the cooling system keeping the car for overheating. Obviously it has to work harder in the hotter summer months, so it is important to check coolant levels. Please note: coolant levels should never be checked until the engine has cooled down completely! Never remove the coolant cap while the engine is warm and certainly never while it is hot. The coolant system should also be flushed completely and refilled at least every 2 years. Beyond topping up the coolant levels, the condition and tightness of any associated belts, clamps and hoses should be checked by a professional.
Engine Oil – If you are making a lot of short trips, stop-starting in traffic, towing a trailer/caravan or making extended runs with passengers and luggage aboard your oil will need changing a bit more often than normal. Keep an eye on oil levels but bear in mind that it will need to be drained and refilled more frequently, roughly every 3,500 miles as a rule of thumb.
Filters – The oil filter as discussed may need changing a little more frequently, but so might your air filter due to the increased dust levels. Your fuel filter should be fine, but could be susceptible to failure after prolonged exposure to excessively dusty conditions.
Lights – Just as a precaution and good motoring practice, make sure all of your front and rear bulbs are working and that your indicators are working as they should. You are also more likely to have to clean your headlights a bit more often after picking up more dirt, dust and insects – make sure your headlights are fully visible when they are switched on.
Wiper Blades – Make sure your blades are in good condition, as they too will be dealing with more dust and bugs. Also make sure your windscreen wash reservoir is topped up, those bugs take some shifting!
Tyres – Again, this just covers the basics of good responsible motoring practices – check your tyres for wear, maintain good tyre pressures and check your spare tyre is in good condition in case it is called upon. Also do not forget that the increased temperatures will mean the tyre pressures increase slightly, so make sure you check the pressures when the tyres are cold. If you find uneven wear in the tyres then tracking may be the cause – wheel alignment can be carried out at A1 Clutches to counter this. If you find any low tread or cuts or nicks in the tyre sidewalls then you should changed the tyre at your earliest convenience.
Brakes – If you notice any unusual noises, experience grabbing or a noticeable drop in performance from your brakes, get them checked and changed where applicable. Brakes as we have discussed previously are one of the most important safety features of your car.
Battery – Finally, we reach the battery. The battery will not face the same challenges it faces winter, but unfortunately batteries can fail at any time of the year. Check the terminals are tightened up properly, scrape corrosion away from the terminals if any is present but remember to be careful whenever dealing with batteries. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection at all times. Have your battery level checked by a professional if it is over 3 years old – that is the only sure-fire way to know what is going on inside it!
As always, carrying some basic tools to make sure you can carry out minor roadside repairs is strongly recommended. Although any work of this nature must be performed safely and away from traffic. Also make sure you carry a first aid kit and we find a torch also comes in very handy.
So there you have it – our top tips for getting your car ready for summer – completely different to winter or spring ones, because summer presents completely different challenges.
As with all of our tips, they are aimed at reducing the frequencies of mechanical breakdown through regular checks and servicing – not only keeping you on the road but also increasing the resale value of your vehicle in the future too!
We hope we get some nice weather and that we can all enjoy summer safely and responsibly. Hope you have fun! Keep your eyes peeled in a couple of months for top tips for getting your car ready for Autumn!