The summer holiday season is all but upon us and if you’re going to be clocking up the miles over the next couple of months, it’s time to make sure your car is up to the job. Making sure your car is ready to take the strain of summer is just as important a job as giving it the once-over for winter. So here are some essential maintenance tips to make sure your car up to speed for the summer…
Air conditioningIf you’re going to be driving any sort of distance you don’t want to be doing so in a baking hot motor, and so you should make sure your air conditioning system is working at full capacity before setting off. Not only will a fully functioning system keep your car cool, it can also help to reduce pollen levels in vehicles and so will also benefit anyone who suffers from hay fever. Try not to keep the aircon on all of the time, though, as it does increase fuel consumption – a good rule of thumb is to drive with the windows down at city speeds or in stop-start traffic, and put the windows up and the aircon on when you start getting up towards speeds upwards of around 50mph.
Air filtersAir filter are designed to keep dirt and debris from entering the car and can quickly get clogged up, especially in summer. So make sure they’re replaced every year way to aid the airflow through your car and also help any hay fever sufferers on board.
Cooling fanThe cooling fan normally kicks in when the car’s engine looks like it could overheat – usually when the needle hits the middle of the temperature gauge. If the fan seizes or fails to start this can lead to the engine coolant boiling which can cause the engine some serious damage. To check your fan isn’t about to suffer a funny turn is to turn the heater to cold and run the car to normal temperature – where the needle normally sits on the gauge – then park up and leave the engine idling for five minutes, at which point the fan should kick in. If it doesn’t and the gauge starts creeping up, switch the engine off and get a mechanic out.
Engine coolantYou should check your engine coolant levels once a week, particularly in summer when there is a greater risk of the engine overheating. When the engine is cold, the coolant fluid level should sit between the minimum and maximum markings on the tank and this level should remain the same between services. If the level has dropped, check for any cracks in the tank or a loose cap and if everything is in order get it checked out by mechanic as it could signify a serious engine problem.
Breakdown coverAll of the above should be carried out in addition to any regular car maintenance checks you carry out, such as tyre condition, oil levels and so on, all of which are outlined in my article Car maintenance essentials. However, this is still no guarantee that you won’t suffer a breakdown, so it’s important you get sufficient breakdown cover in place, whether you’re driving your car at home or abroad. For a quick overview of the levels of breakdown cover on offer, check out the short video below, and to compare prices click on our breakdown cover comparison tool. [embed width="600" height="355"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzXOGKtndL8[/embed] And if you break down on the motorway, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- You and any passengers should always exit the car via the left-hand door and then stand well away from the car, preferably behind a safety barrier.
- Get the number of the nearest motorway marker point – these are located every 100 metres, or on a square blue sign every 500 metres and your recovery service may need the number to pinpoint your location.
- Never attempt a repair on the motorway hard shoulder, always call your breakdown recovery service.