What Special Maintenance Does My Car Need in Summer?

Summer is officially here – the weather is steamy, the humidity is rising and there’s a buzz in the air unlike any other. But those incredibly warm sunny days and starlit nights come with some special considerations. Besides the mosquitoes, endless crowds and sand that you can never seem to get rid of, there’s also your car to consider.

Summer is prime time for a road trip – in fact, data from Real Car Insurance has shown that their Aussie clients plan to drive 10,500km a year. In road trip terms, that’s a route from Brisbane to Perth via Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and then back again!

Regardless of whether you plan on driving around Australia, or if you’re just going to be driving from your home to the local beach, car maintenance will ensure you and your family get where you need to go this summer.

The key to car maintenance is this – prevention is the best form of protection. And by following some simple tips, you can ensure your car survives the hot summer months.

Check your tyres

First things first: check your tyres. The safety of your car and the passengers in it relies greatly on your tyres, as they are the only part of your vehicle to touch another surface – meaning they will be subjected to more wear and tear than any other part of your car.

It’s also necessary to consider the heat of the tar as those classic Aussie heatwaves hit. Always make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct specification (this will generally be found on the inside panel of your driver side door) and that your spare is in good repair. Remember, tyre pressure can change depending on the temperature, so if you’re unsure of what to do, taking it to your local tyre place or your preferred mechanic.

While you’re at it, check the alignment of your car. There are three main ways to check this before taking it to an expert:

  1. If your car pulls to the side
  2. If your steering wheel vibrates
  3. If your steering wheel isn’t centred when you’re driving straight.

If any of these occur, take your car to a tyre shop and get them to check the vehicle’s alignment.

Check your oil levels

If the engine is the heart of the car, oil is the blood. It keeps your engine running clean and smooth and, most importantly, it keeps the engine cool. The key thing to remember is that your engine works overtime in summer as it tries to handle the heat of the outside air.

If your oil is low or dirty, it’s possible that your engine may overheat and you’ll find yourself stuck by the side of the road waiting for help to arrive. To check your oil, let your car run for a few minutes then park it on a level surface. Remember to switch off the engine before doing any checking. You’re looking for how much oil is left in the car and what it looks like. The oil should have a brownish yellow colour and it should look clean. If you’re low or the oil is dirty, take it to the experts to change the filter and replace the oil.

Inspect your fluid levels

Your car requires a lot of fluid – not just petrol and oil. There’s transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windscreen wiper fluid. Check them all. Seasonal weather changes can affect the amount of fluid in your car, as the amount required to make your car run can depend on the air temperature and conditions outside.

Coolant fluid is especially important considering you’re heading into the warmer months. If you’d rather an expert do the checking, head to your local mechanic so they can take a look.

Make sure the aircon works

There’s nothing worse than leaving the beach all hot and bothered, only to discover that your air conditioning has broken. It really is a summer essential. After all, there’s only so much a hot summer breeze through open windows can do to cool you down.

There’s no test as such to check whether it’s working or not; you’ll know when it has shut down completely, and often you’ll know when it’s on its way out. If you think it needs a checkup, call your mechanic or take it to the manufacturer. And it’s recommended that you do it as soon as you notice an issue, as you don’t want it to stop working completely.

Give the car a clean

Now there’s more to this tip than just simple pride. Having a clean car makes most people smile, but it can also prevent premature corrosion, so it’s a really important step. A simple wash down each fortnight can help avoid grime build up. And there’s also the tree sap and tar that seems to find its way onto the paint and glass. Making sure the exterior of your car is clean protects the paintwork, so it really is important.

Remember, grime build-up on the windshield can make it difficult to see, so it’s crucial to keep it clean. Once a month it’s also worth giving the insides a thorough vacuum and wipe-down with a damp cloth.

Check your brakes

Brakes are probably the most important safety mechanism in your car, so it’s imperative that they’re in tip top shape. If you notice a problem, get them checked as soon as possible. Stop and go traffic, long road trips and inclement conditions can really put pressure on your brakes, so if they’re making funny noises or demanding a bit of extra pressure, it’s time to get them changed.

Make sure all drivers in the family know what to do

If you are not the only driver in the family – your partner may also drive the car, or you’re teaching your kids how to drive – it’s essential that the whole family is on the same page when it comes to car maintenance. That way it’s no one person’s responsibility to catch any problems – it’s a joint effort.

And remember, prevention is key to good car maintenance. Why not do a check now before heading to the beach?