Driving in the summer certainly feels like smooth sailing compared to winter driving. However, with the drastic changes in weather conditions between seasons come new priorities for vehicle care. You’ve prepared your vehicle for the change in seasons with a spring maintenance protocol. Now’s the time to take the necessary steps to protect your car from the summer air, heat, sun and scorching pavement.
Change air filters
Your vehicle’s cabin air filter helps keep air pollutants like dust and pollen from circulating inside your car. If the filter is dirty and clogged, it can reduce the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning systems. Inefficient air conditioning is something you don’t want to deal with during the hottest days of the season!
Consult your owner’s manual to find the location of your cabin air filter. You’ll also want to look up the type of replacement filter you need to purchase, and the recommended frequency of air filter changes. Most manufacturers will recommend changing your filters once a year or every 19,312 kilometres.
Keep in mind that the environment you drive in will affect how often you should change your filters as well. If you frequently drive in areas with poor air quality or on dirt/gravel roads, you’ll probably need to change your filters more often. If you’re unsure if your filters need a change, remove them for a quick visual inspection. If your filter is covered in grime – replace it. You may also want to vacuum the filter slot area to make sure it’s clear of excess debris. Make sure to install your new filter with the airflow direction indicator that’s printed on the new filter, pointing in the same direction as the previous filter.
When you change your cabin filter, it’s also a good idea to change your engine’s air filter, located under your vehicle’s hood. Your owner’s manual will also have the information you need to locate the filter compartment, as well as which type of product you’ll need to complete the job.
Check your air conditioning system
A malfunctioning AC system can cost you money by contributing to poor gas mileage. Therefore, a fully-functioning air conditioning system is a must-have for long summer road trips. You’ll want to test out your vehicle’s AC to make sure it can maintain a temperature that’s 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the temperature outside.
Before you head off to your destination of choice on a sweltering summer day, check for indications that your AC system needs servicing:
- No air, hot, or warm air is blowing through your AC vents. Poor airflow could be a sign of low refrigerant levels in your system, a refrigerant leak, or damaged fan components. Improper airflow and temperature could also be caused by clogged vents or blockages in your system that need attention.
- When driving with the air conditioning on, you notice a significant decrease in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
- You see water pooling and staining the areas underneath your dashboard and front floor mats. This leakage is a sign that there’s a blockage in your air conditioner’s drainage system, causing water to pool inside your vehicle instead of draining water out through the bottom exterior.
- You hear unusual sounds after you switch on the AC. A healthy system should be reasonably quiet. Squealing, grinding or rattling sounds are signs that there may be something wrong with components of your system’s compressor pulley bearing or clutch. Noises could also be caused by debris that should be cleared out of your system by a professional.
- You notice a distinct smell every time you turn on the air conditioning. A strange odour could be another sign that you need to replace your air filters. It could also be an indicator of more severe problems like a refrigerant leak or mould growth in your system. If you suspect one of these issues, turn off your air conditioning and take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic for an inspection right away.
If you notice any of these problems with your HVAC system, contact your vehicle service technician to ensure your ride stays cool and comfortable.
Protect your vehicle from the sun
You need to protect your vehicle from sun damage just like you protect your skin. The sun’s heat and ultraviolet rays can cause exterior and interior damage to your car. Sun damage can be expensive to repair if you don’t employ a few relatively inexpensive techniques to keep the sun’s rays at bay.
- Park your car in the shade, away from direct sunlight whenever possible.
- Use a sunshade to cover the inside of your vehicle’s windshield to protect the interior from the impact of sun damage over time.
- Purchase covers designed to protect your vehicle’s exterior, car seats, and steering wheel from the sun when you leave it in the summer heat for extended periods.
- Wash and dry your vehicle regularly to prevent dirt from heating up in the sun and damaging its finish.
- After you wash and dry, wax the exterior to add a protective barrier between UV rays and your paint job. You should also wax your car before summer begins to ensure its protected all season long.
- Use exterior trim protectant to fortify the rubber, vinyl, plastic, and metal trim around your vehicle from fading, drying and cracking under the intense summer sun.
- Apply products formulated to protect the materials in your vehicle’s interior trim and seats as well.
Be proactive about tire maintenance
As the interior and exterior of your car heats up, so do your tires as they drive over hot asphalt. Your tires are at increased risk of blowouts during the summer, especially when they’re underinflated. On the other hand, hot temperatures put more pressure on your tires. For every 10°C rise in the heat, your tire pressure increases by about 1.9 pounds per square inch.
Use a pressure gauge to regularly check your tires, ensuring your tire pressure matches the specifications outlined in your owner’s manual. The increased heat and friction as your tires make contact with the road will also wear down your tire treads faster in the summer, so be sure to check the tread of your tires regularly.
This summer, remember that high temperatures can be hard on every part of your vehicle, so don’t skip any other form of regular maintenance this season. Consult a mechanic to ensure everything from your coolant levels to your brakes and battery are ready to handle long summer drives. When you and your car are prepared to beat the summer heat, making the trip to your favourite vacation spot will be more carefree and comfortable for everyone onboard.
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