Summer’s easy when it comes to driving, right? No snow, clear skies, just a simple change from winter to summer tires and you’re ready to go. But, there are a few more things to do to ensure your vehicle can safely handle those summer road trips.
Changing from winter to summer tires is just the start of your summer maintenance regime. Check the pressure, rotate them (this should be done every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, regardless of the season), examine for uneven wearing, and make sure there are no cuts. Once that’s done, there’s just one more important task – make sure the spare tire is also in good condition.
Just picture the scene – the sun is beating down, it’s 90 degrees, and the A/C fails. Make an appointment with your mechanic today and avoid a hot, sticky journey with grouchy passengers!
A quick inspection of the coolant level and coolant mix will prevent overheating in summer. This time of year is a good opportunity for the annual flush and refill. If this has already been done, checking the coolant level and mix will suffice. DIY-ers can easily tackle this task (just remember to wait until the engine is cool before touching anything!).
The brakes suffer a lot of wear and tear as a result of slower driving over the winter months. Brake pads in particular need attention, due to the effects of thermal cycling – when warm brake pads meet suddenly with freezing water, the huge temperature change will cause cracking over time. If you are mechanically minded, you should have no difficulties removing the wheels and checking the brake pads yourself for disintegration or discoloration. If you don’t feel confident attempting this, any mechanic can double-check and replace them.
While you’re examining the brakes, it’s a good time to attend to the brake fluid. It should be clear and close to the ‘full’ mark. Brake fluid is extremely poisonous, so if you are going to refill it yourself, be sure to wear gloves and handle carefully. You’ll need to buy a new bottle, because it loses effectiveness as it ages. If the brake fluid isn’t clear, this will need to be flushed and refilled by a mechanic.
There are few things more annoying than being unable to see through your windscreen – new wipers are an inexpensive way to ensure a stress-free, safe road trip. Wipers have to work hard during the winter months, so summer is a wise time to invest in a new set. Even if you have winter blades, it is a good idea to replace these for the warmer weather – winter blades are more flexible and soft, which is perfect in icy conditions, but not ideal for the higher summer temperatures. Don’t forget to check and refill the windshield washer solvent.
Wash and Wax
The salt and sand that are put on roads over the winter months are essential for safer driving, but not so great when it comes to the longevity of the car. A thorough clean (body, wheels, wheel wells and underbody) removes any trapped debris. A good quality wax will not only look good, but will also serve to keep dust at bay.
If you’ve enjoyed getting hands on with your vehicle, why not undertake these all-year-round essential checks?
- Change your oil and oil filter
- Get a mechanic to check the engine performance
- Make sure all lights are working
- Check the supplies in the first aid kit have not passed their expiration date
- Ensure the emergency flashlight is working
Winter driving takes its toll on cars. Add in the heat and dust of summer, and it’s essential to prepare your vehicle for this time of year. If you have any tips for keeping your car on the road this summer, why not share them with the TRED community? Head over to Facebook or Twitter now!