Summer car maintenance
Since the last thing you’ll want to do is spend the first day of your holiday sat on the hard shoulder waiting for breakdown recovery, check out our summer car maintenance checklist. With this simple, easy-to-follow advice you can ensure both you and your car are holiday ready….and save on your fuel bills and emissions too.
Check your tyres: You should check your tyres regularly, especially when going on a road trip - the extra distances and weight of luggage will all put additional strain on your car and your tyres. First, taking each wheel in turn, inspect the tyre for any damage. If you spot any issues, have your tyres checked at a reputable garage or tyre fitter.
Then check the tyre’s tread depth. The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central two thirds of the tyre. But of course, more is always better, as the more you have, the greater the traction. Whilst a tyre tread gauge will give you an accurate reading, a good indicator is to insert a 20 pence coin into the tread, as its outer band is approximately 1.6mm too. If you can still see some of the band, then you’ll need a new tyre.
Finally, check your tyre pressure, including the spare, is in line with the specifications detailed in your owner’s manual. Just remember not to overinflate, as this can affect handling, fuel consumption and potentially lead to premature wear.
Check your windshield wipers: You never know when you’re going to need them, so it always pays to check that your wiper blades are in good working order. If they smear or are cracked or split, they’ll need replacing. Similarly, check the level of you washer fluid, topping up the bottle if needed, and that the jets are actually directing windscreen wash at the windscreen, and not over it. Last but not least, make sure your screen is clean before setting off.
Check your air conditioning: Your air conditioning system can lose up to 10 percent of its refrigerant gas each year. Within just two years, it could be operating a lot less effectively, putting more strain on the engine and using more fuel - especially in hot weather. To check your refrigerant levels, simply set the temperature to minimum and the fan speed to maximum. If the air blows ice cold, then everything is working as it should. If not your refrigerant may need topping up. A qualified garage will be able to do this for you.
Check your coolant: You should check your coolant levels every couple of weeks, especially in the summer, as it helps to prevent overheating. When your engine is cool, check the levels in the coolant reservoir - if it’s low, it’ll need topping up with the right type. If it always seems low, you may have a leak so the system will need to be checked.
Check your oil levels: You should check your oil levels regularly too. And never wait for the oil warning light to come on - by this point your engine might already be damaged. As a rough guide, a car can get through a litre of oil every 1000 miles or so. Using your dipstick, check both the level and colour of oil. Of course, if it’s low top it up. If it’s anything other than its typical amber colour, you’ll probably need to change it. A regular oil should last between 4-5000 miles, a synthetic around 6-7000 miles.
Check your lights: Whilst most modern cars will display a warning light if a bulb is out, it’s worth checking all your lights - indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights – for blown bulbs, damage or dirt.
Check your power steering: Power-steering fluid is an area that’s often overlooked. However, it's important to keep it topped up and clean as low levels can lead to increased steering effort and premature failure of the power steering pump, whereas, dirty fluid can result in the premature failure of the entire system. Refer to your handbook for instructions on how to check your fluid level and if it’s low fill it up, or if it's dark brown, have the power steering system flushed and refilled by a qualified technician.
Check your equipment: It’s sensible to invest in some safety equipment, just in case the worse ever happens. Key items to consider include a warning triangle and high visibility vests to alert other drivers, a torch, a first aid kit, a spare bulb kit, engine oil, cooling fan and some emergency refreshments. Also check you have a spare tyre – you’ll be surprised how many people don’t. And finally, if you’re driving abroad you’ll need to be aware of the specific requirements for that country – there are many!
Of course, whilst the above summer car care checks will help ensure your car is holiday ready, nothing beats regular servicing by a qualified technician. This will help keep your car working at its best all year round - optimising fuel economy, emissions and performance, whilst spotting any smaller repairs before they become much bigger. To find your nearest Delphi Service Centre, click here