30th May 2024

Summer survival guide: Top 10 maintenance checks for your car

Here at Delany’s, we receive the most customer queries and motoring-related concerns during two points of the year: Winter and Summer. This is because of the direct implications the colder and warmer climes have on our driving and vehicle. Here is our summer survival guide: Top 10 maintenance checks for your car.

The significance of air conditioning servicing

One of the most important vehicle maintenance checks you can complete ahead of the summer months is that of your A/C unit. The use and pressure put onto your vehicle’s air conditioning system increase hugely over the warmer summer months. But when was the last time you had it serviced, or considered re-gassing it? Luckily, we are air con servicing specialists so are on hand to help if you require this before hitting the road this summer!

It is advised that the air conditioning (A/C) system in your car is serviced every 1 to 2 years to ensure it remains in good working condition. However, the exact frequency can vary based on several factors, including the age of the vehicle, the frequency of use, and the climate in which you drive. Here are some key considerations to help determine when to service your car’s A/C system:

1. Manufacturer’s recommendations

Our advice is to primarily refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This will provide specific guidance tailored to your car model.

2. Be aware of signs of trouble

Pay attention to signs that your A/C system might need servicing, including:

  • Reduced cooling efficiency: if the air isn’t as cold as it used to be, it might be low on refrigerant or have a leak.
  • Strange noises: listening out for unusual sounds when the A/C is running can indicate issues with the compressor or other components.
  • Unpleasant odours: such as a musty or foul smell coming from the vents could signal mould or bacteria buildup in the system.

3. Regular maintenance checks

Even if you don’t notice any immediate issues, it’s a good idea to include A/C checks in your regular vehicle maintenance routine:

Annual booked inspection

Make sure you have your A/C system inspected and serviced by a professional. This check typically includes verifying refrigerant levels, inspecting hoses and connections for leaks, and checking the overall performance of the system.

Refrigerant Recharge

Every 1 to 2 years, depending on usage and climate conditions, consider having the refrigerant recharged. This process involves adding more refrigerant to the system to ensure it can cool effectively.

Cabin Air Filter

Replace the cabin air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or as recommended by the manufacturer, to maintain good airflow and air quality.

4. Climate and usage

Depending on how often you use your A/C (you’ll be surprised how frequently vehicle owners use it!) you might need more frequent servicing.

5. Professional servicing

Ensure that a qualified professional completes your vehicle’s A/C servicing. They will have the necessary equipment, experience and knowledge to handle refrigerants safely and can accurately diagnose and fix any issues with the system.

For more detailed information regarding air conditioning within your vehicle, we have dedicated an air conditioning FAQs page.

Other maintenance checks to ensure your vehicle is summer-ready

Now that we’ve touched upon the importance of completing a thorough maintenance check on your vehicle’s air conditioning system, the below points are recommended to thrive on the road this summer:

  1. Inspect all tyres (visually and by physically checking) – This check must include understanding your normal tyre pressure and ensuring this is correct before your journey. As discussed, hot weather usually causes the tyre pressure to increase. Regular checks are essential for journey safety. Inflate the vehicle tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended levels to avoid blowouts and also improve fuel efficiency. Pay attention to the depth of your tread too. Ensure your tyres have sufficient tread depth for optimal traction. Uneven wear might indicate alignment or suspension issues that need addressing.
  • Inspect the cooling system – this check includes inspecting the coolant levels and inspecting for potential leaks. The cooling system is vital to prevent your engine from overheating, especially during hot weather. Check the coolant level regularly and top it up if you feel this is needed. Ensure you use the right type of coolant for your vehicle. As part of the cooling system check, you must also inspect the vehicle’s hoses and their connections for any starting signs of leaks or general wear. Replace any damaged parts promptly to avoid a breakdown.
  • Inspect the belts and hoses – Completing visual inspections are essential, as increased summer heat can cause the vehicle’s rubber belts and hoses to crack and wear out. Visually inspecting all components for signs of damage is essential as it can then indicate which components need fixing or replacing. The tension and alignment of each component need to be checked too, ensuring the belts are properly tensioned and aligned to prevent any slippage from occurring which will eliminate future breakage.
  • Change the oil and filter – This includes completing regular oil changes, as hot temperatures can result in the engine oil thinning, which then reduces its overall effectiveness. Remember to update and complete a regular oil change schedule and use oil with the right viscosity for summer conditions. Replacing the oil filter often also ensures your engine stays clean and continues to run smoothly, delivering your vehicle’s optimum performance.
  • Be aware of the vehicle’s battery healthCheck the battery often, as high temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, leading to corrosion and reduced performance. Test your battery to ensure it’s holding a charge and inspect the terminals for corrosion. It’s also crucial to ensure the terminals are clean. This can be done easily, to remove any early signs of corrosion, as well as ensure they are tightly connected and in place.
  • Check and maintain all vehicle’s fluid levels – A thorough check of all of your vehicle’s essential fluids and their levels is essential. The fluids include coolant, oil, brake fluid,  transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. Depending on each level, you may need to top off or replace as needed. Don’t forget to include the essential windshield washer fluid in this check too. Bugs and dust can quickly accumulate on your windshield during summer drives.
  • Inspect all components of the brakes – Your brake check should include the pads and the rotors, as well as the brake fluid.Inspect brake pads and rotors for wear. If you hear squeaking or grinding noises, it’s time for a replacement. It’s vital to ensure the brake fluid is at the correct level and in good condition. Replace it if it’s dark or contaminated.
  • Inspect lights and wipers – another check that needs to be thorough, including every internal and external light. Exterior lights include headlights, brake lights, indicators, and hazard lights. Replace any burnt-out bulbs to maintain visibility and safety. Internal lights include ceiling lights, reading lights, luggage compartment lights, door lights, step lights, instrument lighting, work lights, and dashboard warning lights. Remember to check your windshield wipers too, especially throughout the summer months. Rainstorms can appear suddenly, so it’s crucial to make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and replace them if they leave streaks or don’t clear the windshield effectively.
  • Prepare an emergency kit – this must include anything you deem to be an essential supply during times of urgency. We recommend this being specific to the summer months, as the weather and climate will impact what you need to stay cool and safe. Prepare a summer-specific emergency kit that includes water, non-perishable snacks, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, basic tools, jumper cables, and a portable phone charger. Seasonal Items may also include sunblock, hats, and a reflective emergency blanket to protect against the sun. Don’t forget to note down a roadside assistance contact number, which can be used as a lifeline during times of trouble.

Summer survival guide – JDM’s final thoughts

As the temperatures rise and summer adventures beckon, it’s crucial to ensure your vehicle is ready to handle the heat and long drives. Thorough, routine maintenance not only enhances performance but also prevents unexpected breakdowns. By performing these top 10 maintenance checks, you can ensure your car is ready to handle the challenges of summer driving. Regular maintenance not only keeps your vehicle running smoothly but also enhances safety and reliability on the road. With a well-maintained car, you can enjoy all your summer adventures with peace of mind.

We can’t stress enough the importance of regular vehicle maintenance, all year round. A huge part of that is being organised and accountable as to when your vehicle is due its next check or service. Keeping track of your vehicle’s maintenance is something we are on hand to help you manage.

We’re here to help support you throughout the summer (as well as the rest of the year!) Each of the team brings with them their own experience, expertise and advice to ensure your safety on the roads throughout the summer. If after reading this article you still have any questions relating to summer travel, contact us here or give us a call on 0161 477 6266. We look forward to assisting you with your summer-related queries soon!