Whether you’re out on the open road, or making a short trip to visit the in-laws over the break, the holiday season is certainly a peak period on our roads. Extreme heat and long drives can cause undue stress on your vehicle, so before hitting the road this Summer, it’s important to take precautions which will ensure you and your family arrive at your destination safely. No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road in the Aussie sun!
Take the time to follow these tips before you set out so you can enjoy kicking back and enjoying a well- deserved ice cold bevvie when you arrive (safely!) at your destination.
Check type pressure:
Underinflated tyres can be extremely dangerous in the hot weather. An underinflated tyre will bulge outwards and put undo pressure on the sidewalls of the tyre and with enough heat, eventually lead to blowouts. Tyre pressure changes due to rising temperatures, about .1bar for every 10˚c increase in air temperature, even when the tyre is not driven. To ensure optimum tyre pressure, you should measure pressure and inflate tyres when outside air temperature equals the pressure of the tyre, generally about 20˚c, either during the night or early in the morning before the tyre has been driven. Make sure you’re using a correctly calibrated gauge and don’t forget to check the spare!
Tip: hot tyres should never be pressurised to manufacturers recommended cold weather pressure while the tyre is hot.
Check hoses & belts
If a hose or belt snaps, the radiator can quickly overheat, leaving any motorist stranded. Hoses can deteriorate slowly due to the process of electrochemical degradation which will eat away rubber from the inside. The most vulnerable parts are nearest to the clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or engine. Hoses should be firm, never soft or malleable. Belts can also be a cause for concern if they are looking excessively slick or smooth, or if the material has started separating into layers.
Check the oil
You’ve heard it before: check the oil… Oil is the lifeblood of your car, keeping all engine parts running efficiently and most importantly, coolly. The oil should be browny yellow in colour – if its darker and showing signs of dirt and grime, don’t neglect to get it changed and your oil filter replaced. Also check for the correct oil level on the dipstick and either top-up or replace. Don’t risk your engine overheating due to missing such a simple check.
Tip: Oil and filter replacements should occur every three months or 10,000km.
Change the air filter:
Air filters are important in ensuring optimum fuel efficiency on the road and a clogged air filter can really lower fuel efficiency. Spending lots of time driving on dirt or gravel roads can cause the air filter to clog much more quickly. While there is no set km or time frame in which to change the air filter as all vehicles and drivers are different, we recommend taking a quick look at the air filter and replacing it if it’s dirty.
Tip: air filters are relatively inexpensive, so if in doubt, replace
Brakes are the most important safety feature on your car and can compromise the safety of your family if they are worn down or faulty. Some signs to watch for:
- Brake pedal is soft and mushy
- Brake pedal is very hard and resistant
- Indication or warning lights on the dash
- Loud and constant scraping or grinding sounds coming from the brakes*
*Pay particular attention to the sound coming from your brakes. While a squealing noise can mean something immaterial such as moisture on the pads, discs, shoes or drums, a scraping or grinding noise could indicate a more serious problem. This could be a sign of metal to metal contact which has the potential to permanently damage the brakes. Tip: It’s important to have even minor brake problems rectified early, as costs of brake repairs can increase dramatically if they’re not fixed early on.
Summer weather is tough on the cooling system and if a vehicle has low coolant levels, this can reduce the effectiveness of the cooling system and cause the engine to overheat. In worst case scenarios, if the engine becomes too hot, moving metal parts can begin to melt and fuse together. While unlikely, it is important to check coolant levels and top up if low. Coolant should be fully replaced according to your vehicles service schedule.
Tip: a small puddle of coolant under your vehicle when it’s been parked for a while can indicate a coolant leak.
Clean your battery:
In the heat of summer, batteries can overcharge due to a chemical reaction inside the battery which can significantly reduce its lifespan. Heat can also cause internal battery fluid to evaporate, further damaging the battery. In summer, we suggest maintaining your regular services and keeping the battery clean. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals as well as ensure all connections are secure.