The cold weather is heading into the past, which means it’s time to prepare your vehicle A harsh winter can take its toll on a vehicle, but hotter weather causes its own problems too. If you want to enjoy a summer of problem-free driving, then it pays to give your auto a thorough checking over as the days begin to warm.
Here are the major areas to consider during your auto’s spring clean.
Engine Cooling System
In a gas or diesel engine, a large proportion of the energy in the fuel is converted to heat. In the summer, this can be a major cause of breakdowns if the cooling system isn’t working well enough to keep the engine at its optimal temperature. As the weather starts to warm, check that your cooling system contains enough liquid to operate correctly, and then check it again after a week to make sure there are no leaks.
Make a visual inspection of all the components which could suffer from wear over the winter, including the radiator cap seal, all plastic hoses, and the fan belt. If these parts seem cracked or otherwise damaged, have them replaced. The minor expense is far preferable to the costs of a major failure later on.
The coming hotter, drier months mean that dust and dirt can quickly build up to dangerous levels, wherein they can both reduce visibility and damage the windshield through scratching and pitting. Check that the wiper blades are in good condition without too much wear, and that there are no visible tears, fraying, or other defects. Also check that there is plenty of fluid in the washer reservoir, and look for any signs of leaking.
If you’re stuck in traffic in high summer, the air conditioning system is far more than a simple luxury, and it’s better to discover any problems before cooling the cabin becomes a matter of health and safety. If the air conditioning hasn’t been used over winter, blockages or leakages could have developed which may cause serious problems when the system comes under strain in warmer weather.
While safely parked, turn on the air conditioning and run it for a few minutes. Listen for any unusual noises, and check that cool air is being sent out of the vents. Also check for sufficient refrigerant levels, and that plastic pipes and hoses have no cracks or loose connections.
If the climate in which you live makes it necessary for you to have separate winter and summer tires, then the changeover is an ideal opportunity to examine the condition of both sets. In any case, spring is a good time to check for any developing bald spots, shallow treads, or chips or grit which have become embedded in the rubber. All of these will reduce handling safety, and could even lead to a dangerous blow out.
If the tires’ overall condition seems OK, check that they’re inflated to the correct pressure to make driving both comfortable and safe. Check the pressure again a week later; if it’s dropped off, then this could be a sign of trouble ahead.
Have a Good Hose-Down
If the roads in your area are gritted during winter, then by springtime there probably will be a considerable amount of salty grime built up around the wheel arches and underside of your auto. In frozen weather, this may not be much of a problem, but as it warms, corrosion can set in quickly. After the thaw, treat your auto to a full wash, including a high-pressure hose-down of tricky-to-reach parts, to clear out all the salty residue.
These quick and easy tips will help you enjoy your summer knowing that you’ve worked to stay on top of your car’s maintenance.