The obvious #1 factor that should be accounted for in summer is the heat. If you didn’t know it before, every car has a heat combating system, perfectly designed with extensive technical and mechanical precision to keep the heat out and cool air in – making our drive as comfortable as possible.
This technology may be familiar to some of you, but to those who are not, we affectionately call this system ‘air conditioning’ or ‘AC’.
I know, shocking news right?
But on a serious note, if you do not prep your air conditioning the right way for summer, you run the serious risk of having to deal with a dangerously hot interior which does horrors for your driving experience, including nausea and tiredness. Not good. If you have leather interior, forget it. You may as well go sit in a sauna with a sweat suit.
To make sure your air conditioning works fine during summer, inspect the system for worn or damaged belts. Without getting too much into the details, going from cold weather to hot weather can potentially make the AC drive belt brittle, causing it to snap. Remember this belt drives the AC compressor, and without that, you won’t get any air conditioning inside your car.
If your AC system is still blowing hot air, you most likely need it ‘re-gassed’. Any local competent garage can do this. Take note, you should NOT be paying anything over 50GBP / 70USD for this.
It may sound obvious but a marginally operating system will fail in hot weather, and am sure you’re aware, the last thing you want is for your air conditioning to fail during the hottest time of the year.
Another subtler, but just as dangerous detail you may overlook is the engine cooling system. In hotter weather, the cooling system would naturally try to overcompensate for the excess heat present in your car’s engine. If not properly taken care of, this may lead to serious overheating for your car.
The preventive measures for this is fairly simple: check the radiator and hoses for leaks and cracks, and make sure all the connections are snug.
If you notice the engine getting too hot from your temperature gauge on your dashboard, take action by simply turning on the heater fan, full-blast. This may be counter-intuitive, but doing so will help to pull the hot air off the engine . If your temperature gauge is still not dropping, you may have a sticking thermostat, which would need to be replaced.
Side note: be sure to never check under the hood or remove a radiator cap when your engine is hot. I’m sure the repercussions are fairly clear if you were to do so.
Now that we’ve gotten the main components of your car settled, it’s time to move on to some of the more minor elements.
First off, the tyres: a pretty simple and straightforward procedure. If you were still using your winter tyres, go ahead and change them to the summer ones. Not only would you get better handling, speed and fuel efficiency, but summer tyres also have a shorter sidewall and less aggressive tread. Its also just as important to constantly check your tyre pressure, but this maintenance procedure should already be done on a constant basis. Remember, as the temperature increases, so does air pressure, hence ensure to drop the tyre pressure a few PSI.
Your brakes are also an important part of your summer car prep, as for some of you, your summer may consist of thunderstorms and rain. See our blog post here to ensure your brakes are up to scratch.
Side tip: if you also notice that your brake fluid level in the reservoir is low, don’t rush to top it off right away. The brake fluid level will drop to match the wear on the pads in most cases, and this low level could also mean a sign of a leak in the brake system. Topping it off would do nothing but potentially worsen the already bad situation.
Finally, you’re probably due for a car battery check as well. Corrosion is often sped up and catalysed as a result of increasing temperature, and the summer heat certainly isn’t an exception.
Corrosion on the battery terminals can be easily cleaned with baking soda and a toothbrush. That’s right – nothing fancy and nothing expensive. This simple clean can cost you a ton of heartache or money down the road, as with all maintenance checks. Do check to see if the corrosion has returned after a few weeks, as that could be a sign of a more pressing issue at play.
If you want to get more thorough with this procedure, scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections and re-tighten all the connections. Remember though, to wear eye protection and rubber gloves while performing this clean.
Also be sure to check out my friend Tom Ericson’s battery reconditioning guide here. This has personally saved me a thousands. Just recently i have even outsourced my whole battery reconditioning business to India using his guide’s.
There’s a whole world of options for what you can do to your car this summer, but for that, we’d probably need to write a whole book instead of just one post. We’ve taken what we felt were the core essentials you need to look out for when preparing your car for the summer.
You should be more than ready to bust out the wheels this summer, with no unexpected pitfalls sneaking up on you as you cruise down the motorway playing your favourite summer soundtrack. Let the good times roll people. 🙂