Time passes fast, and summer has rolled around again. With life being so busy, it’s very easy to forget about the important maintenance that your car needs to stay in excellent working condition. This quick guide will cover some of the most important things that you should be checking now that the sun is shining.
No car maintenance checklist will be complete without mentioning the oil. If the engine is the heart of your car, then the engine oil is the lifeblood. Engine oil keeps the moving internal parts of your engine lubricated which reduces friction and the heat that it causes. When the outside is temperature increases, so does the running temperature of your car’s engine. Therefore now is as good a time as any to check your oil level, top it up if necessary and make sure that the oil is changed every 12 months, 10,000 miles or whenever your handbook says so.
The dry, dusty roads quickly cause dirt and debris to stick to your windscreen. This can make it almost impossible to see during the hours of bright sunlight. So make sure that your screenwash reservoir is filled to the top, with the correct concentration of screenwash. Check the information on the bottle to see how concentrated it needs to be. It is always handy to keep a litre bottle in your car as an emergency top up in case you run out.
Screenwash is only useful if the wipers work well. The long periods of dry and warm weather can following a wet winter can cause your wiper blades to split as they are made of rubber. Replacing them is cheap, easy and will mean that you have improved visibility when you need it most.
Despite the fact that the days are longer, in the UK the weather is never guaranteed. Within a few minutes the blue skies can turn into grey clouds. Torrential rain and spray from the roads can severely decrease visibility so it’s a good idea to ensure that all of your lights are in full working order. Remember to see and be seen.
The outside air temperature can alter the pressure of the air inside your car’s tyres. As the temperatures rise, so does the pressure in your car’s tyres. If you pumped your car’s tyres to the correct pressure before the warm weather, then they could be overinflated during hot spells. Not only does this reduce your grip, but it also increases tyre wear, which costs you money as you will have to replace your tyres sooner.
Coolant helps to keep your engine cool, but as it is a liquid it can evaporate in warmer temperatures. Although a coolant system should be fully closed, it only takes a tiny breach to make you lose coolant. So check it regularly and make sure that it is topped up. Make sure you buy the same grade/colour as your car already uses.
If you’re fortunate enough to have air conditioning in your car, then check it to make sure that it still blows icy-cold. Over time the gas in the air conditioning system can leak away. So if your air con isn’t up to scratch then it may need topping up. This costs around £50 usually, but is well worth the investment on those long, hot car journeys. If you don’t have air conditioning, why not take some time to try and sort out that window that’s taped shut?
The cooling fan is a vital part of the cooling system, and is essential during periods of warmer weather. To check that it’s working, start your car and let it idle for a few minutes so that the engine gets hot. The fan should automatically come on for periods of time. Some cars have what is known as a viscous fan, which is turned by a belt whenever the engine is running.
In the unfortunate event that you do breakdown, there are some items you can have in your car that will make it much less of a nightmare. A high-visibility vest and other safety equipment, as well as a car charger, bottle of water and some suntan lotion will make sure that you are comfortable if you’re stranded at the side of the road for a long period of time.