Summer Driving – How Can I Save Money Looking After My Car?

Holts_Summer_Driving_How_Can_I...Extending the life of a car can be a labour of love. If you’re planning a long drive for a summer holiday, or just want to make sure your car’s in good health for when the weather heats up, Holts is on hand to solve your problems.

Read on for our top tips to help keep your car in tip-top shape:

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Replace the Fluids

Good maintenance guidelines suggest power steering fluid, brake fluid, and cooling system antifreeze fluids should all be drained, flushed and replaced at least once every two years. If you switch to Prestone coolant, your engine will be protected for 5 years or 150,000 miles

Additionally, try to change the transmission fluid and filter according to your car’s handbook. High operating temperatures and microscopic metal parts from worn components will degrade the fluid, leading to transmission problems in manual and automatic cars.

Change the Oil

Just like transmission fluid, engine oil degrades over time due to high operating temperatures and microscopic metal particles from worn components. New oil helps to protect the engine and prolong its life, saving you money in the long run. Check your vehicle handbook for oil service interval; diligent oil changing could extend your car’s life by up to 200,000 extra miles. When changing the oil, always replace the oil filter as running new oil through an old filter reduces its efficiency.

To check your oil, wait for the engine to cool and oil to drain into the sump so you get an accurate reading – normally around 1 hour. Open the bonnet and locate the dipstick – it should be brightly coloured and easy to see. Take it out and give it a wipe with a cloth and look for the minimum and maximum level lines. Now replace the dipstick and remove it – check that the oil just reaches the maximum marker. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to top it up – check your handbook for the type and specification of oil for your car. Also look at the colour of the oil – it should be a clear golden colour. If it’s very dark (black) in colour, it means it’s getting old and you should think about changing it. If in doubt, most good quality garages will offer a free oil check to give you peace of mind.

Change the Air Filter

An old, clogged air filter reduces the amount of air which enters the engine and affects its performance and can increase emissions. Luckily, changing the air filter is one of the easiest and cheapest maintenance jobs you can do to restore lost performance. It requires no tools and can significantly improve the fuel efficiency of the car to help save you money. We recommend that you change your car’s air filter once every 12,000 miles.

Replacing the air filter is simple, usually this can be done with no tools – just follow these steps:

1.         Check your vehicle handbook for the type of filter that’s right for your car. All good motor factors and high street car part retailers will stock the most common filters, but some may have to be specially ordered, which can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Locate the air filter box – normally a black plastic box sat on top or alongside the engine – check your car’s handbook for details as location can vary.

2.         Undo the fixings on the air filter box, remove the lid and remove the dirty air filter.

3.         Place in a new air filter and replace the lid, taking care to replace the fasteners.

man with car exhaustSeal the Exhaust

Keeping your exhaust sealed by repairing small holes and leaks can help improve the fuel economy and performance – helping your car run smoothly for longer.  Holts Gum Gun  can simply and permanently seal holes, cracks and leaks, forming a gas tight seal that lasts for the entire lifetime of the exhaust.

Monitor Brake Pad & Disc Wear

Over time, brake pads and discs can wear down or become corroded and are less able to stop the car. If the pads wear down beyond the wear indicator, they could cause damage to your brake discs. Check the depth of brake pad and any uneven wear or excessive corrosion on the discs. If in any doubt, have a trained mechanic take a look. Most good quality garages will offer a free brake check-up.

Rotate and Inflate the Tyres

Rotating the tyres means moving the front wheels to the rear and vice versa. As the front and rear tyres wear out at different times, rotating the tyres every six months or 6,000 miles can help reduce the risk of uneven wear and tear – and contribute to a significantly longer life for the tyres. The recommended wheel rotation is diagonal – so you switch front right with back left and front left with back right. Take care when doing this as some tyres are unidirectional, meaning they should only travel in one direction. If in any doubt, consult a trained tyre technician. Most good quality garages will offer a free tyre inspection service.

Additionally, it is important to keep tyres inflated at all times. Under-inflated tyres can reduce tyre life by as much as 15% and can have a huge impact on your fuel economy. Aim to check your tyre pressure every other time you refuel, to make sure the tyres are never under inflated.

Keep it Clean

Cleaning the car on a sunny Sunday can be relaxing and enjoyable; however it is important that the car’s cleanliness is maintained throughout the year to protect it against the elements. Mud, dirt and dust can accumulate, especially on the underside. Without regular cleaning, rust can start to develop on the underside of the car and corrosion can creep onto underbody components within three or four years. This is particularly important for those who live near the coast, where the salty air is especially corrosive.

Drive Smart

Perhaps the most obvious of tips is to drive carefully and be sensible when behind the wheel. Start the car slowly and allow it to gently reach its perfect operating temperature whilst driving well within the car’s limits and comfort zone. Reckless driving can put unnecessary strain on the car and cost you more money in the long term.

Service Your Air Conditioning

It’s that time of year when most drivers reach for the air-con button as soon as they get behind the wheel. But what happens if your air conditioning system is no longer quite so effective at keeping you cool as it once was?

If you’ve noticed that your a/c just isn’t doing the job anymore, it could be time for a regas. This is a standard air conditioning service wherein the compressed refrigerant gases in the system are removed and replaced – resolving any issues you may have experienced with your a/c.

Although it is possible to regas a car’s air conditioning system yourself, we’d recommend leaving this job to the pros, as it can be fiddly and difficult to get right. Plus, air conditioning servicing isn’t all that expensive, and some garages may even offer to do it for free as part of a promotion on a full service.

Learn more about air con regassing in our detailed guide.

Protect Your Car’s Paintwork

You’ll need to clean your car regularly in the summer, as dead insects, bird droppings and tree sap can cause a real nuisance for your paintwork at this time of year. These types of substances are stubborn and difficult to remove, and may even damage the paintwork and clear coat if they’re not dealt with quickly.

To protect your paintwork from the worst of summer’s grime, give it a thorough wash at least once a fortnight and make sure you apply a coat of wax to make deposits like tree sap easier and safer to remove. Our partner brand, Simoniz, has lots of guides on taking care of your car’s paintwork in the summer months.

Beyond cleaning, summer is the ideal time to deal with paintwork imperfections like chips, cracks, and swirl marks before autumn and winter come around again. Our comprehensive summer paintwork maintenance guide is packed with tips on how to repair and protect your car’s paintwork so that it’s ready for a new season of driving.

EV Summer Maintenance Tips

If you’ve recently made the switch to a fully-electric car, this could be your first summer driving on battery power alone. The warm weather can present a few challenges for EV drivers, so here are our top maintenance and range-maximising tips for driving an electric car through the summer months:

  • Limit the use of air conditioning: Even when it’s super warm, EV drivers should avoid using the a/c where they can since it can reduce the available range. This shouldn’t be a problem around town when you can have the windows open, but it’s something to think about when you’re on faster roads or the motorway.
  • Don’t charge to full battery capacity: This may sound counterintuitive to maximising range, but overcharging the battery in seriously hot weather can cause overheating problems. Try to maintain your battery capacity at between 75-80% to keep temperatures within a safe and manageable range.
  • Remove unnecessary weight from your EV: Summer is a time for camping, days out and trips to the beach, so our cars have a tendency to gather all sorts of surplus stuff that can add weight and diminish EV range. Before every journey, make sure to have a clear-out to ensure you’re only carrying the essentials you need.

Find out more about how Holts’ products can help you this summer.

Written by Bruce Ellis