Lazy summer days are here and it’s time to get out and about to enjoy that sunshine while it lasts! For all the fun of summer, there’s still the worry about packed roads or overheating engines. Our car care tips will help you avoid all incidents so you arrive cool and calm, no matter the destination.
Whether you’re a beach bum at heart or prefer the cool breezes of the lakes and mountains, a summer getaway is probably on the cards. Even if you’re not planning a break this summer, driving in warmer weather poses different challenges to the cooler months. Preparation is key to carefree motoring. Before you get behind the wheel, follow our car care tips to keep trucking all summer.
Sitting in a hot car through summer is guaranteed to take the fun out of any journey. Sure, you can wind the windows down, but a warm breeze just isn’t the same as a cool blast from the car’s air-conditioning! That’s why the first of our car care tips is to check the air con is in tip-top condition.
That means making sure the coolant and water are topped up and the vents are free from dust and grime. If you’ve noticed the air-con isn’t quite up to muster, ask your mechanic to give it a quick once over. They should check for system leaks and worn out air filters. Air-conditioning systems should be serviced around every two years or 30,000 miles as part of your regular car servicing.
To help prolong the life of the air-con system, and your car battery, only turn the air con on after starting the car.
2. Car battery checks
Car batteries don’t like extreme temperatures. Cold weather drains them of power and high temperatures make them work harder. Getting stuck with a dead car battery isn’t any fun, so this is one of the summer car care tips you don’t want to ignore.
Maintenance-free batteries don’t have filler caps, so you don’t need to tinker with these. Wet-cell batteries do have filler caps and may need their fluids checked and filled with distilled water. You can’t use tap water as it will damage the battery.
Before you go filling anything, check the battery voltage. With the car off, this should be 12.6 volts. A voltmeter will give you the reading. Batteries don’t last forever, but taking care of your car battery will prolong its life.
If the volt reading is lower than 12.6, the battery probably needs filling. First, give the battery a clean, then unscrew the caps. Top up the fluid carefully so the electrodes are just covered with fluid, then replace the caps. Voilà! The battery is good to go.
3. Car care tips for fluids
All cars need various fluids. Even electric cars use brake and air-conditioning fluids. Making sure everything is topped up will ensure you keep your wheels turning without too much friction.
Your engine oil should be checked using the dip stick and topped up if low. If the colour of the oil is quite dark – darker than a honey colour – it’s time to get the oil changed.
Other fluids that need checking for summer include the coolant and radiator water. These need to be checked regularly and the beginning of summer is an ideal time. Power steering fluids, brake fluids and transmission fluids should also be checked. If anything looks dirty, it needs to be changed. If it looks clean but levels are low, simply top them up.
Windscreen wiper water should also be topped up. While you’re at it, check the windscreen wiper blades too. This will make sure you have clear vision through the front and rear windscreens, no matter what the British summer does.
4. Car filters
Your car has four different filters if it runs with a traditional internal combustion engine. These filters should be regularly checked and if you keep up with regular servicing they will be. However, two of these filers should be regularly checked by you too. The cabin and engine air filters should be checked and replaced if needed.
These filters make sure the air that enters your car’s cabin or engine is free from dirt and dust. When tiny particles are allowed into the engine, it inhibits performance. When they get into your car, you end up with hay fever problems, grimy windows or an over-worked air-con and heating system.
The cabin air filter is usually found in the ductwork of the air-con system in the engine compartment at the base of the windscreen. Sometimes it is under the dashboard, behind the glovebox. Engine air filters are usually at the front near the inside of the left or right fender. Regular servicing should mean these are checked every 20 – 30,000 miles by your mechanic.
5. Tyre check and rotation
Tyres are the only thing between you and the road, so you need to take good care of them. When checking tyres in summer, look for bubbles on the side walls, uneven wear, and make sure your spare tire is pumped up ready for an emergency.
One crucial thing to look for when checking tyres is enough tread for a good grip. The 20p test is helpful here. Insert a 20p coin in the tread of the tire. If you can see the TWENTY PENCE writing on the side of the coin, the tread is too thin. If it disappears, you’re good.
If the tread is worn more on one side than the other, the wheel alignment needs to be corrected. You should stop by a tire shop and ask for them to correct the alignment and then have them rotate the tires for you.
6. Clean up for Summer
The winter months tend to give our cars a bit of a beating. The exterior gets blasted from salted roads and endless mud. The interior isn’t left unscathed either. Mud gets walked into car mats and we know of more than one (ahem) “friend” who has trouble keeping rubbish out of her car in winter.
To prepare for carefree summer driving that feels great, give your car a clean inside and out. A clean car gets better fuel economy because clean, sleek lines create less wind resistance. With today’s ever-rising fuel prices an extra 2 miles per gallon are worth the effort.
Getting your car prepared for summer with our car care tips isn’t hard, it just takes a little planning. A little bit of effort will go a long way. Whether you’re just commuting to work or planning to head off on a British road trip, taking care of your car before you go will ensure stress-free driving.
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