Car maintenance tips for summer travel

With summer officially here, many of you will undoubtedly be planning to take some long distance trips in your car. Therefore, you should be taking some steps to ensure your car is in good shape, so you don’t end up stranded at the side of the road.

A man performing maintenance on his car

A properly maintained car should get you from where you want to go, and will save you money getting there. Keeping your vehicle in good condition will also help you when it comes to selling your car, as it will have been maintained throughout its lifetime.

With this in mind, we have taken a look at what you should check to ensure your car survives the summer unscathed.

Battery

The hotter weather can place a strain on your battery, so checking the health of it is important. You should test your battery if it is more than 3-years-old or if you see one of the follow signs of a failing battery:

  • Power drains when air conditioning is turned on.

  • Slow cranking when you start your car.

  • Lights dim upon starting.


Many auto parts shops now offer a free battery testing, to help give you peace of mind and test the health of your battery.

Radiator

Overheating is the number one cause of breakdowns in summer, so make sure your radiator is up to scratch. It should be filled with the right concentration of coolant – usually a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, but your car’s manual should offer you the correct specifications.

Your radiator should also be flushed and serviced every two years, so if it hasn’t been done for a while, make sure you do it before you head out on a long journey.

Keep an eye on the temperature gauge while you’re driving, to make sure it is not creeping into the red. If it does, you will have pull over quickly and turn off the engine, or run the risk of damaging your car further. You will then have to seek professional help, as there will probably be an underlying issue.

Hoses

Your radiator may be in good health and your coolant levels are correct, but if the hoses aren’t in good condition, none of the rest of it matters. When inspecting the hose, keep an eye out for cracks, leaks and peeling. While your engine is still warm, squeeze along the length of the hose – it should feel firm, but not hard. If it is spongy or soft, even in a small section, you should consider replacing it before it fails and causes even greater problems to the car.

Air Conditioning

An air conditioning system that is only part-working may fail in hot weather, so keep an eye on how well your air con is working. Do this by placing a thermometer in your car’s vent while the air con is running, and see how cool the air is getting.

If it’s not cooling as it should, try cleaning and replacing the air filters (your owner’s manual should show you where to find these). You could also book your car in for an air conditioning service to investigate if there are further underlying issues with your system.

Other tips

  • Check your breaks before you head on long journeys. If you notice any grabbing, pulsating, noises or you are taking longer to come to a standstill when you brake, it may be time for new discs.

  • Your tyres and oil levels should be checked weekly (as we previously stated here).

  • Check your windscreen wipers. We know it’s summer, but it’s Great Britain as well so the unpredictable weather could catch you out! Wipers deteriorate faster in the warmer weather, so keep an eye out.


Keep your car clean and waxed. Sunlight, UV radiation, dirt and air pollution can cause damage to your car’s exterior, so help protect it by regularly washing and waxing your car.