How To Get Your Car Ready For Your Summer Road Trip
Summertime is travel time, even with high soaring fuel prices. We can’t resist the South African clear blue skies leading us to our next adventure. Whether you’re driving to the bushveld or on your way with the kids to the coast, summer can be demanding on you and your vehicle.
Before you leave for your holiday, there are a few things you want to get checked out. Because with summer weather and road trips, unfortunately comes car trouble.
Here are ten tips to keep things cool during a summer road trip:
- Test your air conditioning
South African summer heat pairs well with air conditioning. When road tripping in December, you’ll want that AC in full swing, so test it.
If you’re getting hot air when you turn your air conditioning on, a simple fix may be to add refrigerant. If that doesn’t do the trick, taking your car in for an AC service may be just what it needed for that sweet cold air.
- Top off engine fluids
Seasonal shifts can lead to low engine fluids as they thin or evaporate in extreme temperatures. When summer comes around, you’ll want to top off your transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid.
Coolant fluid is the most important to check during the summer months, especially before a road trip. One of the most common causes of vehicles breaking down during the summer is the engine overheating due to low coolant levels. A good quality coolant is one of the most important fluids for your car to get through the heat.
- Get your radiator serviced
If your car is over three years old, get the radiator serviced before your summer trip, and while you are at it, check for any leaks. Check for leaks on a dry surface, so that you’re sure everything is up to par.
- Get your oil and filter changed
Getting your oil and filter changed is one of the easiest ways to increase the longevity of your vehicle. Oil lubricants keep your engine safe from wear and tear, and the oil filter helps remove contaminants from your car’s engine oil.
If this service is not done routinely, your car can develop problems, like particle buildup that could wear down vital parts of your engine.
- Check your tyres' air pressure
Before going anywhere long distance, inspect your tyre pressure. When checking your tyre pressure, you’ll want to look for signs that your tyres are under- or over-inflated. If you have any doubt, reference your owner's manual, or check the inside of your driver's seat door or your fuel cap for the exact pressure.
Optimal tyre pressure can prevent a flat tyre or blowout. Ensuring your tyres are properly inflated can also help maximise your fuel mileage. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to check the air pressure of your spare tyre in case of an emergency.
- Test your brakes
It’s important to monitor brake performance throughout all the seasons. But before a long road trip, be sure to look for other signs than the obvious warning of poor stopping performance. You’ll want to listen for squealing sounds when testing your brakes, and check for brake pulling, or if your vehicle pulls to one side when you press the brake pedal. If you notice any of these poor performance signs, it’s time for an inspection and potentially a repair or service.
- Replace windshield wipers
The sun, especially in South Africa, can damage the exterior parts of our vehicles. Have a look at your windshield wipers to make sure that they are not disintegrated or need to be replaced. Be sure they’re functioning properly to help you maintain clear and safe visibility during potential summer storms.
You don’t have to wait until a storm occurs to determine your windshield wipers effectiveness. Before you hit the road, prop the wipers up and run your fingers down the blades. If you notice pieces are missing and a rough feeling, it’s time to replace them.
- Take care of your car battery
Excessive heat reduces battery life by causing the fluid inside to evaporate quicker. It even speeds up the chemical reaction inside a battery, leading to overcharging. Get the battery checked to find out if it’s charging at the correct rate. Summer months can be tough on a charging system, all that strain from air conditioning to your cooling fans. Inspect your battery by looking for any signs of wear and tear. Check its date and consider a replacement if it’s older than four years.
- Keep your filters fresh
Because you’re going to be rolling up the windows and blasting the AC, you need to ensure the airflow to your engine and to the cabin is excellent for your health and the car’s. Have a look at the cabin air filter and check for any signs of discoloration or dampness. Check your engine’s air filter too. A clean filter will help your car thrive and improve fuel mileage.
- Park your car in the shade
On hot days, try to park your car in the shade. Parking your car in a shaded spot not only keeps you cool, but can keep your car cool and prolong its life. The sun’s rays could damage the paint of your car, which could be costly to fix. Extreme heat could also heat the interior of your car, like the steering wheel and leather seats, making it difficult to drive.
Having window shades in your car is a good idea in case you cannot park your car in the shade. These shades will block out UV heat, which keeps the interior of your car from getting too hot. If you don’t have UV shades, leave the windows open a bit for air ventilation.
And that’s our tips to beat the heat this December holiday. Stay safe!