- The summer heat and heavy holiday traffic can take a toll on your vehicle. Make sure that it’s ready to perform with these routine checks and tasks.
- Fluids and filters are a priority, but there are many steps you can take to improve your car’s overall operation and efficiency.
- Some maintenance and prep can be done on your own, while other jobs might require a professional technician.
As the thought of warmer weather approaching is on people’s minds, so is the idea of the next holiday road trip or family getaway. Just as cars need special attention and maintenance to prepare them for the cold winter months, they also need a little TLC to get them road-ready for spring and summer. Between the heat and dust, as well as the never-ending stop-and-go traffic that is already hard on your engine, you could be just waiting for a breakdown if you don’t take the time to get your car ready for the warmer months ahead. Keep reading to learn what your prep list for summer driving should include.
Here are the essentials that should be on your list when giving your car a good once-over in anticipation of the warmer months.
A fair majority of summer breakdowns are a result of engines overheating. Most drivers don’t realise their coolant system should be flushed every two years or so, depending on their exact driving habits. In addition to checking the antifreeze levels, you should also have a mechanic inspect the belts, hoses, and clamps to ensure the system doesn’t have any leaks or other damage.
*Important note: When checking your coolant levels, or if the engine does overheat, NEVER remove the radiator cap while the engine is hot. This could cause serious injury as the system is under a lot of pressure.
While air conditioning isn’t a necessity, it can certainly make your car trips more comfortable. A nice breeze might be fine on the highway, but when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a blazing hot day, you’ll regret not having your air conditioning system checked so that it is in good working order. You may have low freon, or there may be a bigger issue, but you should get it resolved, regardless.
A mechanic can refill the freon or coolant for you if it is low, or you can purchase cans to refill your system that include the right hose and tool to fit your vehicle’s filling valve. You’ll typically find the valve on the side of the engine running along the aircon lines. Just be careful to watch the pressure and not overfill the system.
Air filters should be replaced annually, or at certain recommended mileage intervals if you don’t drive that often. Most cars have two air filters: one in the engine compartment to clean the air coming into the vehicle, and then a second one in the cabin to provide an extra layer of protection from outside dirt, debris, and pollutants. You might not need to change them at the beginning of the spring each year if you have changed them recently, but at least check them before you rule it out.
Oil and Other Fluids
Aside from topping off your antifreeze, you’ll also want to make sure that you check all of your other fluids, including oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. Fill your windshield washer fluid and ensure that your fluid system is operational so that you can clean bugs and dirt off your windshield that could impede your view on the road. Watch your fluids early in the season. As the heat makes everything thinner, small leaks and cracks in your system may make themselves known. You will want to get those resolved as quickly as possible.
Brakes and Tyres
Your brakes and tyres may have survived a long winter, but now it’s time to make sure that they’re road-ready for the hot months. Brakes get even hotter when the weather is warm, so having pads that are in good condition and proper brake fluid levels will make all the difference in keeping your brakes cool and working properly. You should check the tread on your tyres and test them for any slow leaks. Also, be sure not to over-inflate your tyres as that can lead to bursting in the sweltering summer heat that causes the air to expand even further.
What to Do if You Spot Trouble
When checking your vehicle, you may come across things that need to be fixed, fluids that need to be filled, or other issues. Fortunately, most of the items on this list are easy to handle on your own. As mentioned, top off any fluids that are low during your inspection. Make sure that you use manufacturer-recommended fluids for replacement so that your engine runs at its best.
If your cooling system, air conditioning, or other components require repair or replacement before summer, you’ll need to assess the situation and determine whether you can do the work yourself or if you should hire a mechanic for the job. Oil changes, coolant flushes, and air filter changes are generally simple DIY tasks, for example, while something like a major air conditioning repair might require a licensed mechanic. Don’t get in over your head, but take advantage of doing any repairs and maintenance that you can to save the labour costs.
When you choose to do your maintenance and repairs, make sure that you are using genuine OEM replacement parts and accessories. That way, you are giving your car the best parts for optimal performance, and you will get more life out of them than if you purchased generic or aftermarket parts. You’ll also guarantee a perfect fit and fewer issues with replacement.
Your car is a big investment, and it deserves special attention and care that it needs. That includes making sure that it is ready for any season. Put this summer checklist to work and get your car in shape so that you can enjoy all of your travels, whether you’re just commuting to work or heading out on a summer holiday road trip.
Count on Autofixa for all of your routine care and replacement parts needs. Our vast selection of OEM parts and accessories offers something for most vehicle makes and models, and can help you get back on the road with a car that’s ready to beat the heat all summer long.