The weather and road conditions during the summer months have a direct impact on vehicle performance, so it is important you know how to care for your car. Using our summer vehicle maintenance tips, you will be able to ensure your car is working to the best of its ability throughout the entire season.
The best summer vehicle maintenance tips
During the summer, it’s likely you will be travelling more, whether this is for a weekend away with the family, or just spending evenings out enjoying the hot summer nights. No matter where you go, you want to guarantee you can rely on your vehicle to get you and your passengers there safely and without disruption. Unfortunately, warm weather, hot roads and extended trips create a very hostile environment for your car, so it’s vital you know ways to protect it and keep it running smoothly.
Despite many modern cars being manufactured to withstand extreme temperature changes and weather conditions, there is always the possibility something could go wrong. In fact, breakdown statistics show that there is a 20% increase in roadside callouts when the weather is hot! Moreover, cars are more likely to overheat when the weather is warm, which is one of the leading cause of breakdowns on roads in the UK.
Some vehicle issues are completely unexpected, so it is best to be as prepared as possible for any potential problems. Follow our maintenance tips to ensure your vehicle doesn’t let you down this summer.
Change your oil
Motor oil aids the moving components of the engine and keeps them clean, smooth and cool. With sufficient lubrication, the various engine parts can move past each other without causing a lot of friction. If friction were to build up, it would significantly slow down the running of the engine and generate a large amount of heat, causing further damage.
It is recommended that you change your car oil every 3,000 miles or every three months to ensure maximum efficiency from the engine. Changing the oil in your car is easy and can be done following these steps:
- Locate the drain plug – The drain plug is a large nut/plug located under the oil pan which is at the bottom of your car. If your drain plug is not easily accessible, jack up your vehicle
- Place a container under the oil drain plug – This container will be used to catch the oil already in your car, so make sure it is a suitable size
- Unscrew the drain plug – You should protect your hand with gloves, a cloth or paper towels as the oil will begin to drain out of the engine and into the container
- Remove the oil filler hole cap at the top of your engine and unscrew the oil filter – If you cannot do this step by hand, then we suggest using a wrench to assist you.
- Empty the oil from the filter into a drain pan – Once you are sure the filter is empty, wrap it in newspaper and put it to the side until you can take it to a recycling centre, along with your old oil
- Screw the new filter in
- Wipe around the area where the oil drain plug goes – Make sure you do this step after all the oil has drained out
- Replace the oil drain plug – Use an adjustable wrench to tighten the plug
- Pour the fresh oil into the oil filler hole – Using a funnel here will make this step less messy and ensure you do not waste any oil. You should also pour the oil in slowly to allow it time to run down.
- Replace the oil filler cap and run the engine for 60 seconds – Check for leaks from the drain plug and around the filter
- Shut off the engine and wait for 5-10 minutes – This will allow the oil to settle into the pan and give a more accurate reading when checking the oil level
- Keep adding oil a little at a time – Stop adding oil when it reaches the full line on the dipstick
- Give your car a test drive
- Let the oil settle for another 10 minutes and give the oil level one last check
If you are unsure of what engine oil your car needs, Halfords have a useful online tool which allows you to type in your car details and provides you with several oils that are suitable to use in your vehicle.
Test your battery
Many drivers are unaware of the detrimental effect heat can have on your car battery. When temperatures are high, the battery fluid can evaporate and therefore cause damage within the internal structure. You can either test your car battery yourself or ask a qualified mechanic to do it for you. Here are some warning signs that indicate there may be an issue with your car battery:
- Slow engine crank – If you are attempting to start your vehicle and notice it is quite sluggish and takes longer than normal to start, this could suggest there is a problem with your battery
- Check engine light is illuminated – This light can sometimes appear when your battery power is weak. A low coolant light could also mean your battery is not functioning properly
- Low battery fluid level – Part of the battery case is normally translucent so you can easily check its fluid level. If the fluid level is below the lead plates, it is time to have the battery tested
- Swelling, bloating battery case – If your battery case looks bigger than normal, this could be a result of excesses heat causing it to swell
- Battery leak – If you notice a pungent, rotten egg smell coming from your car, this could indicate the battery has leaked
- Old age – Battery life cycles range from 3-5 years so if yours exceeds this period of time; you should invest in a new one
Check and monitor tyre pressure
Monitoring your tyre pressure during the summer months is essential as tire failures due to under-inflation nearly double when temperatures reach around 25°C. Moreover, when heated air inside your tyres expands, the pressure rises quickly and could result in a tyre blowout. To prevent this from happening, you should check your tyre pressure at least once every couple of weeks.
Once you know the recommended tyre pressure for your car, you can check to see if your tyres adhere to this. To check your tyre pressure you need to:
- Make sure your handbrake is on and the ignition is turned off
- For the most accurate reading, allow your tyres to cool for around three hours
- Unscrew the dust caps on your tyres and keep them in a safe place until you need to replace them
- Press your tyre pressure gauge onto the valve – you should hear a small hiss of air
- The number which is then displayed on the guage show the pressure of your tyre
- If you the pressure is too high, let some air out until it reaches the desired pressure. If it is too low you can go to your local petrol garage and inflate it.
- Remember, if you have a spare tyre it is worth chekcing that too as you may need to use it in an emergency
- Once you are done, screw all your dust caps back on
Keep your engine cool
Weather conditions during summer increase the chances of your car engine overheating, so taking the necessary steps to keep it at optimum temperature is essential. You need to regularly check your radiator and hoses for cracks and leaks and make sure the connections are perfectly in place.
Engine coolant is your car’s best friend during the summer as it prevents corrosion and overheating. Without the right amount of coolant, you could suffer from an automatic engine cut off and damage to engine parts.
Maintain a comfortable driving environment
The temperature inside your car can get unbearably hot, especially when it has been sat in the sun for hours. To make journeys more comfortable, you should utilise your air conditioning as much as possible. Not only will this cool down your car’s interior but it will also reduce fatigue, which is vital for longer journeys.
Another way which you can make your car’s interior stay cool and comfortable is by using a windscreen sunshade.
Get a complete vehicle inspection
If you are not a car enthusiast and like to leave all things car related to the professionals, we don’t blame you! Cars are very complicated, and it’s best to utilise the invaluable experience and knowledge of a qualified mechanic, so you do not cause further damage by trying to fix the issue on your own. Booking your car in for a service or MOT is a great way to identify any problems with your vehicle. We offer a wide variety of repair services, including clutch repairs in Milton Keynes and head gasket replacement in Milton Keynes, so you are guaranteed to have a solution to any car problem you may have.
Check your brakes
As the most important safety feature in your car, your brakes need to be in perfect working condition at all times. Here are some signs that suggest your brakes may be faulty:
- Your brake pedal feels soft and mushy
- Your brake pedial is very hard or resistent
- Your brake pedal rests too low or too high
- Your brake wanring light is illuminated
- Loud and constact scraping and grinding sounds coming from the brakes
If you notice there may be a problem with your brakes, you should get them inspected by a professional or repaired as soon as possible using car brakes in Milton Keynes.
Making the most of summer
Having a fully functioning vehicle is key to enjoying summer as you can use it to take a day trip to the beach, meet up with friends in the warm evenings or go on fun adventures such visiting a safari park. No matter where you want to go, with a car, your possibilities are endless, so make sure you use the aforementioned tips to make your summer one to remember!