Summer’s here, well almost. So before we know it, the sweltering sun will be knocking our doors, and if you aren’t lucky enough to be living in the hills (in fact, even that's not an option these days - Ed), it’s going to suck your life out. Not literally, of course, but you get the point. But unlike you, your car might not have the comforts of an AC parking, and add to that the usual strain it’s subjected to during the routine commute.
Here are few points to keep in mind to save your car from summers!
First things first, even if your vehicle’s running without any issues, like it always should, don’t bother skipping its scheduled service. There are a few reasons behind this. Not only will a check-up by a trained technician ensure that the car’s fluids – engine oil, gearbox oil, brake fluids, coolant, etc. – are topped up, but it also means that the vehicle is checked for its normal behaviour, too.
Most car manufacturers also organise service camps to enable free check-ups, regular servicing, and various other promotions during summer. It's best to take benefits of these. Oil and air filters need to be replaced at certain intervals, which is also taken care of by the service centre.
Fluid level top-up
If leaving the car for servicing isn’t possible for you, the least that can be done is by checking the car’s fluids level. The oil level can be checked using the dipstick, and if it appears to have turned dark or has lost its viscosity, draining the remaining oil and replacing it with fresh one should do the job.
In case it hasn’t really turned dark but the oil level is low, you can top it up by using an oil of the same grade as prescribed by the manufacturer. Synthetic oils have a longer life; you could consider that while changing it. Manufacturers also mention the interval at which the fluids must be changed, so keep those in mind as well.
While AC is also checked as part of the regular service, it’s best to get it checked even if you aren’t getting the car serviced. Its use will increase massively during summers, hence it becomes all the more important to ensure that it is in shape before being put to gruesome testing.
Possible leaks can hamper its performance, while a reduced AC refrigerant is the most common reason behind the lack of cooling by the system.
Tyres, wiper blades, and other rubber parts
The increased heat is set to make rubber hard, which could eventually turn brittle. Tyres are certainly tougher in comparison to other rubber-made parts of the car, but getting the tyres checked for cracks is important. These cracks can be very dangerous. Also, what goes without saying is that the wheel alignment and balancing should be performed, too, to ensure uniform wear of the tyres. The spare wheel, which often goes ignored needs to be checked for pressure as well.
Wiper blades, beadings, and other seals can turn hard under the effect of heat. They aren’t very expensive to repair, so if you find a faulty part, get it replaced.
Check for leaks
A leaking coolant line or a broken seal can potentially leave you stranded in the middle of the day. That, in the scorching heat, is probably the last thing one would want in summer. To save yourself from the pain, see if there are any leaks or loose hoses. Checking the latter is pretty simple. Look for a stain where you park your car. If there’s one, it’s time to head to the service centre.
The slightest of a deviation from the normal running (irregularity) of the car could mean that something has gone wrong. Be it the brakes that might have gone soft, the clutch that might feel hard to depress, or the battery that’s causing troubles while starting the vehicle, stay a bit cautious for such indications. Also, the onboard diagnostic system in present day cars do a great job, so look out for new lights (engine check, service due) that might start to glow.
Prepare for the worst
With the above mentioned points in check, the chances of your vehicle breaking down are quite slim, but it’s better to be prepared than sorry. Car companies generally have their own emergency assistance, which makes getting out of a ‘situation’ easier, but the service could be limited to either those under warranty or those who have subscribed to the service. Make a point to keep the car’s tool kit, a small first-aid kit, and a water bottle in the vehicle, whenever you travel. Most phones and in-car infotainment systems have GPS these days, so if you can’t get help by calling people, you can find the closest dealership, too.
In case your vehicle breaks down, try getting in touch with the manufacturer’s assist. That can offer a lot of help – from locating the closest dealership to even sending a technician/tow-truck, if needed. But in the rare case you can’t get through to any help, the only option you are left with is taking help from the locals. In such case, make sure that you don’t leave the valuables (phones, wallets, etc.) stray inside the cabin. Keep them safe with you instead. Locals are generally helpful, and so are authorities, but one should be cautious always.With sun staying up longer than in winters, roadside shops are generally open for longer, so finding a mechanic for a makeshift job wouldn’t be a problem, either.
A change in weather shouldn’t stop you from enjoying motoring – be it your everyday commutes or a roadtrip that you’ve planned with your family.
Urban dwellers might cringe at the sound of ‘malls’ (thanks to the added traffic headed to the malls) but they are essentially a blessing in disguise. Apart from the usual shops, theatres, etc, they also offer parking spaces (generally covered) for customers. Opt for covered parking / parking in shade whenever you could.
Also avoid sudden changes in temperature, which could even develop cracks in the windscreen. So if your car has been parked in the sun, don’t blast the AC to full. Roll down the windows, turn the AC on, and let the hot air flow outside. That way you won’t either crack the windscreen nor would you subject yourself to sudden temperature change, either.
With the above mentioned points in mind, you can keep you car healthy, and your time with the car trouble free.