It’s official, we’re now in the summer months and making the most of the warmer weather and the longer, sunnier days! For some of us, summer means school holidays and jetting off on a well-earned summer break. For others, it’s all about the staycation and visiting friends and family for long weekends. It’s about loading up the car with a picnic and sun cream and making a journey, hopefully to the beach! But with these long journeys, often leaving early in the morning and coming home late at night, what do you need to do to prepare your car? (Other than pack your cool box!)
Here’s our essential guide of summer car care tips and how to get your car ready for the summer:
1. TLC for your tires
Taking care of your tires is so important because not only will they have a huge impact on the handling and performance of your car, but they’ll also influence on the safety of your vehicle. Worn out, under-inflated or damaged tires can affect your braking so, whilst the weather is good, give your tires the once over to ensure they’re in the best condition. Look for any bubbles in the sidewalls, patchy wear or anything that looks like it may damage your tire.
Tip: Check your spare tire too. You never know when you might need it!
2. Spring clean your car
All throughout the bad weather months you’re driving on gritted, salted roads and over wet or icy surfaces. This covers both the outside and inside of your car with general dirt and filth which, if left, can damage your paintwork, upholstery and any components. Treat your car to a full body clean whilst the weather is fine! Use high-pressure water on the outside to blast away any road salt and grime, vacuum the inside mats and seats and polish your windows after they’ve spent months covered in ice.
Tip: Give the engine bay a good clean out as this will help you diagnose any damage in the process.
3. Best check your brakes
After the harsh winter, your brakes need a break! Throughout the colder months, brakes suffer from extreme changes in temperature as they heat up through use and then meet with freezing water and drops in overnight temperatures. By inspecting your brakes in the warmer weather, you can assess the damage caused by the colder half of the year. Check there isn’t any cracking, crumbing or discolouration.
4. New windscreen wipers
Your windscreen wipers spend months battling through ice and frost as you desperately try to clear your car in the mornings. Replacing your blades after the winter weather is a good idea as they are often damaged by ice and this makes them less efficient. Driving with broken windscreen wipers is illegal and, especially if you’re off on a summer road trip with your family, it’s important that your blades work as they should.
Tip: Consider buying specialised seasonal blades for winter and another set for summer.
5. Keep your coolant cool
Coolant is designed to prevent the engine of your car from overheating. In the increased temperatures of summer, it’s a good idea to ensure that your coolant levels are topped up and it’s working as it should be. It also protects your engine from freezing, so it’s an important defence system all year round.
Tip: If you have a dog, keep it away as you check/top up your coolant. Dogs love the sweet taste of the glycol in the liquid, but it’s toxic so make sure they don’t accidentally ingest any!
6. Eyeball your oil
Before you and the family pile into the car and set off on your journey, check your oil level and colour. If the oil is black instead of amber then it needs changing. Also, use your dipstick to ensure it’s at the correct level. Once this is done, it will go for miles without needing your attention!
7. Too hot to hold?
If you know you’re going to be parking your car for hours in an exposed, unshaded space then take a towel or sheet to cover your steering wheel with. When left in direct sunlight, your steering wheel can heat up and become too hot to grip comfortably. By covering it over, you’re avoiding any palm-scalding leather before you have to move off again!
Generally speaking, giving your car a quick maintenance check-up will help you prepare for the summer and any long journeys you may be taking in holiday traffic. Nothing spoils a weekend away like a breakdown, so we recommend you do a bit of summer car care before you set off. It may sound link unnecessary fuss, but minimising your chances of any mishaps along the way will help to make your summer a restful one!