You should be performing regular maintenance on you car year round. However, just like at the start of Winter, your car will most likely benefit from some extra preemptive maintenance to help it smoothly transition through the seasons with ease as temperatures begin to warm up. We have put together this guide for car maintenance tips for summer to help you along the way.
1. Check Your Cooling System
Why? Keeping cool during the summer is not only beneficial for us, but also for our vehicles. The coolant system helps to prevent the engine from overheating and can provide sufficient cooling to the interior of the vehicle. Nobody wants to be overheating in their car, nor do they want their vehicle to overheat at the peak of Summer.
How? Begin by checking the coolant fluid level and top it up as you deem necessary. Once you have filled up the coolant, move on to checking the coolant reservoir and the hoses. Ensure that there are no leaks, especially at the connection points and joints where are the engine block and hose connect. It is also a good idea to gently squeeze the coolant hoses every now and then. If they feel extremely soft or squishy, it may be time to change them. Hoses should feel firm when squeezed and not give too much.
2. Clean The Air Filters
Why? During autumn and winter, plenty of debris can enter the air filters and cause blockages. These blockages are typically caused by decomposing leaves and organic matter. They not only block the air filters, but they can also cause blockages on the washer nozzles off the windshield. Many modern vehicles also have filters that filter out pollen and pollution, so it’s a good idea to check these too.
How? Begin by removing any debris that you can see to give you clear access to the air filters. If your air filter looks blocked, you can remove it and give it a good clean with compressed air. You should avoid using water as this can cause debris to stick to it when you replace it. Many modern vehicles have cabin filters. These types of filters are typically easy to remove and clean, so it is a good idea to ensure that they are free from any dirt or debris. If you are not sure how to clean the filters yourself, take your car to a technician who can do it on your behalf.
3. Adjust Tyre Pressure
Why? The air inside of your tyres expands and contracts throughout the year. The cooler the atmospheric conditions are, the more air you need to put into your tyres. During the warmer months, the opposite occurs and the air inside the tyres begins to expand. If you overcompensated during the winter months, this can place additional pressure on your tyres leading to less surface traction and adhesion. Increasing or decreasing the tyre pressure improves your safety on the road.
How? The best way to adjust your tyre pressure is to go to a service station and use one of the automated air refill units. Before you adjust your tyre pressure, refer to your vehicles manual to find the optimum pressure level according to the temperature and weather conditions. Once you know this number, you can tap it in on the digital display and the machine will do the rest for you. If doing this manually at home, make sure that you use a foot pump with a pressure gauge on it and that you avoid overfilling the tyres. As a general rule of thumb, during the summer months you should reduce the tyre pressure and during the winter months you can increase it.
4. Apply UV Protective Wax
Why? The intense UV rays from the sun in the height of Summer can cause your vehicle paint work to deteriorate rapidly. UV rays also increase the overall temperature of the vehicle, leading to it overheating both under the hood and inside the vehicle. A good UV protective wax will help deflect much of the UV rays hitting your car thus keeping it cooler and preventing any oxidative damage from occurring.
How? Applying an anti UV wax to your vehicle is as simple as giving it a good clean and following on with a liquid wax wash. Many modern car cleaning solutions contain UV resistant properties, especially those found in car washes. One of the main benefits of using an anti UV wax or shampoo is that it also provides UV protection to the windows, reducing the amount of damaging UV rays reaching the passengers inside. A UV wax for shampoo should be used once every 4 weeks throughout summer for maximum effect.
5. Install Sunshades
Why? The sun is able to rapidly heat up the interior of a car well beyond safe limits. Even during early spring and autumn, temperatures inside a vehicle can go beyond 50 degrees Celsius. Sun shades help prevent the amount of heat transference into the vehicle thus reducing the overall temperature. They also have the added benefit of preventing the dashboard and seats from becoming sun-bleached over time.
How? Sunshades are easy to find in many stores around the country. They vary in the types of material that they use, with aluminium sunshades providing maximum efficiency. Installing sun shades in your vehicle can be a quick and easy process that makes use of suction cups attached to the back of the sunshade. It is a good idea to use sun shades even when your vehicle is parked in a shaded area. Always put them on the windows in the evening time so that the morning sun does not cause your car to overheat. For the windscreen, whenever the sun shade is not in use you can store it in the boot.
6. Check Your Air Conditioning System
Why? Air conditioning can be a lifesaver during the peak of Summer and provides a constant flow of cool air to the cabin of your car. You have most likely not used it very often throughout the winter months and leaks may have occurred allowing the refrigerant to escape. There is nothing worse than turning on your air conditioning only to discover that it is not working properly when you need it most.
How? Unless you are a mechanic your best option is to take your vehicle into a garage and have any leaks repaired. While it is possible to purchase refrigerants and leak sealing products from many car accessory stores, if you don’t know what you are doing, you may do more harm than good. If you discover a leak in your air conditioning system then you want to have a qualified mechanic repair this before recharging the air conditioning system. While you may not want to turn the air conditioning on during the cooler months, it is a good idea to test it at least every 4 weeks to ensure that everything is in working order throughout the year.
7. Clean The Interior
Why? As much as you try to keep the inside of your car pristine, it is surprising how much dirt and grime can build up in the interior of your car throughout the year. During the cooler months this is not so much of a problem. However, with the heat of Summer many different types of debris can begin to rot and turn bad. There is also the additional risk of things catching on fire due to the magnifying effect that the windows have on the sun’s rays. For this reason, you should clear out any trash from your car and give it a good clean.
How? It is a good idea to give your car a complete clean both outside and in. Begin with the interior and pick up any rubbish or belongings laying around. Once you have removed these, use a vacuum and thoroughly clean the seats and footwells. Next, clean the windows, dashboard and any leather seats with a UV resistant cleaning solution. Ensure that the boot is free from any combustible materials, such as deodorant cans and air fresheners. Finally, take your car to a car wash and give it a deep clean using a UV protective shampoo and wax.
8. Top Up Other Essential Fluids
Why? While taking care of your vehicle and preparing it for the summer months it is a good idea to give it a thorough inspection. One of the most overlooked maintenance requirements are the essential fluids ranging from the windshield washers, power steering, brakes and oil. It is important to remember that these are used throughout the year and are constantly being consumed.
How? Begin by checking your oil level using the dipstick. If the levels are getting low, top them up with a high quality oil rather than a discount brand. Once the oil levels have been checked, refill your windscreen washer reservoir and add a UV resistant cleaning solution to the mix. You will know if your brake fluid is running low by the way they feel when you use them. If they feel like they are spongy or lacking bite then you may need to have a system bleed performed before replacing the brake pads.
9. Replace Worn Windscreen Wipers
Why? While you may not need to use your windscreen wipers as much during the summer, now is the time to change them. During the warmer months there is an increase in pollution and dust that will settle on your windscreen. It is going to rain at some point, and windscreen wipers and poor condition will cause streaks that make it difficult to see.
How? Replacing your windscreen wipers is a quick and easy task. Ensure that you purchase windscreen wipers designed for the make and model of your car. Simply unscrew or unclip the retaining point and slide the windscreen wiper sheath off the wiper frame. Slide on the new windscreen wiper sheath and resecure the retainer.. Once you have got them in place, spray your windscreen and turn the wipers on to test them. It is a good idea to clean your windscreen at least once every 7 days during the summer time to eliminate dirt and debris build-up.
10. Check Your Engine Belts
Why? Over time the serpentine belt can begin to develop micro-cracks and tears. This is partly down to changing atmospheric conditions going from hot to cold. It also occurs from general wear and tear. As the serpentine belt connects the fan, alternator and various other components, it can cause major inconveniences if it should break. Nobody wants to be stuck in the searing heat of the sun because the engine belt has decided to break.
How? Begin by inspecting the serpentine belt for any small cracks, tears or missing pieces. Even if you notice the smallest and most insignificant cracks it is better to have it changed rather than risk it breaking on you. Changing the serpentine belt is a quick and easy process for many mechanics and car dealerships. Of course, you can do this yourself but when it comes to the engine it is best left to the professionals.
Don’t forget, if you are going on a road trip this summer, make sure you also do these checks before you hit the road!