Tips For a trouble-free summer
The changing weather and temperature not only affects you, but your car as well. Here are some tips to keep it running without any problems this summer.
Summer is here, and temperatures are soaring. Stepping out in the sun is a pain and this means only one thing. It’s time to drive up to the nearest hill station. But before you start packing your bags, take some time out to look after your car. In fact, regular car care through the season becomes all the more important. Here are some pointers.
Regularly changing the oil keeps the engine in good shape. Oil acts as a lubricant and helps in the smooth functioning of the engine’s internal parts. Over time, the oil accumulates carbon and metal debris. It also loses its viscosity due to exposure to high temperatures. Replace the engine oil every 5,000km or as recommended by the manufacturer, and especially before the summer season if you plan on going for long drives. If you ignore this, it can lead to engine damage.
Winters are colder in some parts of the country than others, and the air conditioner is not put to use for a good part of the year. Hence our advice is to get the system serviced before the summer gets to its worst. If the air conditioner is performing optimally, the temperature at the vent should be 9-10 degrees celsius. If it isn’t, there can be quite a few reasons why. The refrigerant level may be low or, in the worst case, the compressor may not be working. Only a thorough check will reveal everything that’s wrong. Most service centres have specialised AC servicing equipment with average servicing costs hovering around the Rs. 1,200 mark. Replacement of parts will cost extra.
Park it right
Always try and park your car in a spot with enough shade. Not only does parking in the sun make the cabin hotter, the bodywork too gets affected, leading to premature fading of the paint. When not using the car for a long time, use a car cover to protect the paintwork. For everyday driving, don’t clutter the cabin with things you don’t need. If you tend to have a lot of items lying around in the car, remember they too retain heat and affect the AC’s performance as well. Keeping a small towel over the steering wheel also helps keep it cool and reduces the chance of burning your hands.
Keeping it cool
You aren’t the only one that feels the heat in the sun, the engine does too. Therefore it’s important to keep the engine cooling system running without fault. First and foremost, the radiator should be clean and free of any debris. This improves the flow of air and consequently the exchange of heat. Debris can accumulate within the cooling system and hence flushing the radiator is recommended at least once a year. If left unchecked, the debris build-up can lead to blockages. Coolant should be replenished too. Refer to the car’s manual to see what mix of coolant and water (usually 50:50) should be used.
Most manufacturers organise maintenance camps for owners during this time at the authorised workshops. Lots of goodies are offered like free check-ups, and discounts on service charges and parts. These maintenance camps are a great way to get the car in good shape. The only problem is that it can get a little crowded at the workshop during this time with lots of owners lining up to get their cars serviced.
Synthetic engine oil seems to have a performance advantage compared to regular oil, but then it also costs more. Whatever you choose, when you change the engine oil, make sure the viscosity rating of the oil remains as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Before setting off, roll all the windows down to let the air out of the cabin. Hot air makes the air conditioner work harder, not to mention increases fuel consumption.
Summers are a time for holidays and what better way to enjoy them than a road trip. Follow the maintenance tips above and your car should remain trouble-free over a long-distance drive. You should take care not to push yourself too much in the hot weather too. Stay hydrated, drink enough water and carry something to eat. Most navigation devices today have up-to-date maps and are rather useful. Also, a map book comes in handy as backup. In case you have a breakdown you should be prepared for it. Make sure your mobile phone has a full charge and you have the emergency service number of the manufacturer.
Use sun films to keep the heat out, but make sure you are not breaking any rules regarding visibility in doing so.
Never open the radiator cap right away and wait for the engine to cool down before flushing. The fluid in the system is under pressure and is hot, and it can burn your skin if you’re not being careful.