Though we’re scared to say it out loud for fear we might jinx it, it does seem that spring has, at last, sprung. The days are drawing out, things are warming up, and many of us are turning our thoughts to barbecues, beaches and endless days out. But before you dig out the shorts and dust off the sunnies, there’s something that needs your attention — and that’s the family car.
As the warm, sun-drenched days of summer creep around, more and more of us will be getting behind the wheel to head for the beach or our favourite picnic spot — maybe even the airport. That means our cars need to be in tip-top shape to cope with the extra summer mileage — because no one wants the family holiday ruined by a roadside breakdown.
With the bank holiday weekends now in sight, why not devote some of your time off to prepping your car for summer? After a long winter, it’s important to give your car some much-needed TLC, and make sure it’s all set for the summer season.
Here, we guide you through some of the checks and prep you can do to ready your car for warmer weather.
1. Start with the Tyres
After a long winter battling rain, sleet and ice, your car tyres will be in need of a once-over. Tyre pressure can go up or down depending on the temperature, so you should check them as the seasons change to make sure they’re at the right PSI. We’d recommend checking your tyre pressure every fortnight anyway regardless of the weather, as this will prevent uneven tread wear and make sure rolling resistance isn’t impacting on MPG.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check the condition of your tyres. If they’re starting to show signs of wear, it might be worth getting a new set, preferably summer ones. Summer tyres offer the best combination of grip, fuel economy and comfort above 7°C, and can handle both dry and wet roads in warm conditions — perfect for the unpredictable British weather!
If you’re going to be doing a lot of driving over the summer, it’s also worth checking the condition of your spare tyre if you have one. Punctures can strike at any time, so it’s best to be prepared if you don’t want to get stuck on the hard shoulder in the baking heat.
2. Give Your Car’s Coolant the Once-Over
Many of us are guilty of neglecting to check our car’s coolant, believing oil and screen wash are the only fluids beneath the bonnet that need our attention. If you’ve never checked your coolant before, now’s the time to start. Summer temperatures can put extra pressure on cooling systems and make overheating more likely, so you need to make sure your coolant/antifreeze mix is offering the best performance possible in the run up to summer — and that you’ve got enough of it!
To check your coolant properly, get yourself a Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze Tester. These affordable little gadgets let you check the condition and performance of your car’s coolant, giving you an accurate reading of the freezing and boiling point of the fluid. The great thing is the tool is easy to use and guaranteed for use with any type of car, so you can always be confident your coolant/antifreeze is offering the right level of protection for your car’s engine.
If, after using the tester you find your coolant isn’t offering the best performance, we’d recommend flushing the cooling system and topping the reservoir up with high-performance coolant/antifreeze that’s tested in high temperatures — so you can drive confident no matter how warm the weather gets.
No plans to buy a coolant tester? Just make sure to check there’s plenty of coolant in the reservoir (it should be up to the fill line), and that it’s not discoloured or murky, as this could mean it needs replacing.
3. Test Out Your Air Conditioning
After having your car’s heater turned up to 11 all winter, it’s a great feeling when you get to hit the A/C switch and feel a cool, welcome breeze in your face again. But what happens if the air conditioning just doesn’t kick in, leaving you melting in a sweatbox and trying desperately to get a cool breeze into the cabin through an open window?
To avoid this, make sure you check the air conditioning is working properly before summer really kicks in. If you notice the temperature isn’t cooling as it should or if there’s a funny smell, we’d recommend getting the air conditioning system serviced by an experienced mechanic. Most car manufacturers recommend that air conditioning systems should be serviced every two years to replenish liquids and make sure all components are working as they should (though you should always check your car’s manual). You can also have the system cleaned, which should get rid of any nasty smells.
Air con servicing doesn’t cost that much, and it will mean you can comfortably cover hundreds of miles this summer without fear of melting at the wheel.
4. Get Some Summer Screen Wash
Like any season, summer has its negatives — and sun dazzle is one of them. With smears, pollen, bug splatters and dust mucking up our windscreens throughout the summer, sun dazzle can be a big and dangerous problem, so it’s important that your car is always loaded up with quality screen wash to keep the glass clean and clear even in direct sunlight.
There’s hundreds of types of screen wash all at different price points, so choosing the one that offers the best combination of affordability and performance can be tricky. If you want a screen wash that’s specifically designed for summer, Prestone Max Visibility Summer Screen Wash is the product to buy. This unique product easily removes dirt, smears and traffic film, helping to prevent sun dazzle for maximum all-round visibility.
If you want a year-round product try our Extreme Performance Screen Wash which has been awarded the Auto Express Best Buy.
As well as topping up your car with good quality screen wash, check your wipers for wear and tear which could prevent them from keeping the windscreen clean and smear free. Wiper blades are cheap to replace, and will really help keep things clear as you motor from A to B throughout the summer.
At Prestone, we put our products through their paces in all extremes, so you can be confident they offer the very best performance for your car. For more information, visit the Prestone homepage.