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How to Look After Your Car
In Summer Months
Looking after your car is important to ensure it stays in top running condition and is as safe as possible for you and your passengers. But what you actually need to do can vary depending on the weather.
We’ve got a separate piece on how to look after your car during the winter so this post is going to focus on how to care for your vehicle during the summer.
There are a few different checks you need to do on your vehicle all year round, but there are also particular ones that you’ll want to do during warmer seasons. In this section we’ll cover checking the battery, checking your tyres, checking your fluids, checking the air filters and air conditioning system.
Although dead batteries are more likely to happen in the winter months, because a battery works best in heat you should also check your battery during the summer.
It should be properly sealed to avoid the electrolyte evaporating faster and you might need to top this fluid level up during the summer.
Not all cars have batteries are able to have their fluid topped up. There are low-maintenance batteries, which are sealed and so will not have a filler cap or need to be tightened by you. It is still worth doing a visual check if your vehicle has one of these batteries to check for any corrosion or leakage of battery acid, which would mean it needs to be replaced.
It’s important that you regularly check your tyres and we’ve got this helpful how to here to guide you through the process.
But it’s especially important to check them during the summer months as hot weather increases the air pressure in your tyres which causes more strain on any weak areas making the possibility of a puncture more likely.
We recommend checking your tyres regularly to ensure there are no cuts or bulges, and that the tread is still deep enough to be safe.
You should also regularly check your tyre pressure, when they are cold, to ensure that it is within the recommended range.
You should regularly check under your hood to ensure your fluid levels are where they should be.
We recommend checking your coolant and the engine oil levels around once a fortnight. For each of these there will be minimum and maximum lines that the level should sit between. For your coolant this will usually be on the bottle itself and you will need to top up if needed.
When looking at the coolant levels you might also want to check the state of your hose and coolant reservoir to check for any leaks. You can also squeeze the hose, while the engine is cool, and make sure it feels firm and not squishy or soft. If it does feel too soft then it will likely need replacing.
To check your oil you’ll need to remove the dipstick, which you can find by looking for a bright yellow or orange pull ring. Once removed you’ll need to wipe the stick off with some kitchen roll or an old cloth and then return it to the container in order to get an accurate reading.
While doing this you should also take a visual check of the windscreen washer liquid and top this up if needed.
When checking the levels of any fluids you should always do so when the vehicle is parked on a flat surface and not on any incline, or decline and when the engine is cool to ensure accurate readings and avoid any accidental harm to yourself.
Your car has air filters in it to ensure the engine gets enough clean air in order to work correctly.
If you feel confident enough to we recommend checking these at the change of the season as they can become clogged. You can change them if needed as well, though if you’re unsure what to do we always recommend seeking professional help.
A lot of modern cars also have pollen filters or cabin filtration filters and you might also want to check these in case they need changing as well.
Most garages will look at the conditions of your filters as part of servicing and you can also ask them to have a look if you are concerned that they might need changing.
Warmer weather means that the interior of your car gets a lot hotter and so one thing you’ll want to check is the air conditioning.
Most manufacturers recommend that the air-conditioning system is regassed around every two years to ensure that it works correctly and efficiently for you. Regassing is a process that removes the old refrigerated air and replaces it to ensure your air conditioning system can provide you with cold air.
We recommend using the air conditioning regularly throughout the year to ensure the fluid in the system lubricates the washers and seals as well as preventing the gas from leaking, which can happen without regular use
It’s important to keep your car clean during the summer months for a number of reasons. It helps to keep your paintwork in top condition, prevents you from having reduced visibility, protects your car from damage and inconvenient smells.
Keeping the exterior clean helps prevent any damage to the paintwork from bird poo, sap and other dirt you might encounter on the road.
You might also want to use a wax after washing the vehicle as this will help protect your paintwork from fading in strong sunlight or blemishes caused by bird droppings and insects.
One area you should regularly clean is the windscreen wipers, to ensure that they can clean your windscreen without leaving any smeary marks that could cause poor visibility.
During the summer it’s especially important to keep the interior of your vehicle clean.
Some items like lip balm or hair wax will melt during hot weather and leaving them open or tilted at an angle could cause them to leak and damage your vehicle.
We recommend putting any portable satnav or other electronics out of view when you leave the vehicle at any time of the year but especially during the summer as they might also be affected if left in the heat for a long period.
We recommend never leaving any open food in your vehicle no matter the weather, as it can cause a smell and additional damage.
During the summer though this is especially important as the heat can lead to food melting or deteriorating more quickly.
If you are someone who usually keeps a sweet snack, like a packet of gummy bears or even a chocolate bar in the car we recommend taking these with you when you leave the vehicle or you leave them in one of the coolest spots of the vehicle like the boot or under a seat. Sweets and chocolates are likely to melt even if they are in a packet and some might even melt out of the packet if they’re not tightly sealed.
Food not only smells when it is left in the heat, which can linger in your vehicle even when the food is removed, but if it melts or spills then it can also cause stains and other damage to your interior.
During the summer months, it’s important to stay hydrated and this might lead to you leaving some bottles or cans in the car. We usually suggest keeping a bottle of water in the vehicle at all times, but in the summer you should keep this in one of the cooler spots of the vehicle like the boot or a storage cubby.
You should also be careful when keeping any open drinks in the car as the heat can make them warm, and flat if they’re fizzy. Sweeter drinks might also attract insects if your windows are left open whilst stopped.
You might want to get a screen to cover your dashboard, that goes across your windscreen and protects your dashboard from UV damage as well as keeps the cabin a little cooler for you when the car is not in use. These are particularly useful if your car is parked in an area of direct sunlight for a long portion of the day.
For drivers who have children who often travel in the vehicle you can also get sunshades for the rear passenger windows that stay on the windows whilst the car is in motion and protect them from the bright sunshine. These are especially useful if you have young children who don’t want to or are unable to wear sunglasses.
The metal parts of your car will get the hottest when in direct sunlight and so some drivers find it useful to plug their seatbelts back into the socket when they exit the vehicle. This stops them from heating up and possibly burning you when you return to the vehicle.
If you’re planning to travel for your summer holiday in your car then you should also take a look at this piece on checks to make before a long trip.
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