We all discuss, at length, about how to keep your car fit for different seasons of the year, especially when it is pouring down with rain or during the ice-cold days of winters. We don’t however lay much importance on driving in the scorching summer heat. Most of us take it for granted that the car will take care of itself, depending on the conditions. Honestly, that’s not true. Yes, the cars are tested in extreme climate conditions to ensure they keep on working, but most of the time, those testing conditions are no match to what the real world throws at you.
Summers, especially in India, can be a lot more cruel to your car than winters. Since we are close to summers in some regions of the country or in it in the rest, it will be ideal to keep your car and yourself ready for any journeys that you plan. Like yourself, your car needs to be properly looked after for different weather conditions.
Get the radiator checked for any clogged cooling tubes. These tubes act like veins for the car’s coolant to run throughout the system. If any one of them is choked, the engine is ought to overheat and suffer a stroke. And the chances of this increase if you haven’t got the radiator flushed in over a year. One standout symptom of this problem is when the engine gets heated up beyond its normal limit at sustained high speeds.
Visually inspect the belts and hoses which are connected to the cooling system. Look for small cracks in the rubber of the belt and make sure the hoses are tight. You can check the latter by grabbing the hose near the clamp and ensure that it doesn’t rotate.
Top-up the coolant. What’s more, you can add anti-freeze fluid along with it. Why, you may ask, do we need anti-freeze in summers? Well, it’s a game of simple chemistry. Mix two liquids together and the boiling temperature shoots up for the end product. That result is definitely welcome thanks to the extreme temperatures in our country.
Check whether the cooling fan is functioning as it is supposed to. It turns on when the temperature of the coolant rises a predefined threshold. You can check whether it is working fine by just turning the air conditioning on. Pop the hood and the fan should be working. If it isn’t, it won’t, under any other circumstances. Get it checked. Another possibility is that the coolant temperature sensor is faulty.
Once you are done checking the cooling system, it is time to get yourself acquainted with the science of how summers can be torturous to the tyres of your beloved wagon. We know that it is friction between the tyres and the ground that enables the car to move in the intended direction. But friction also results in the production of a lot of heat and you can feel that heat radiating from the wheels of your car after you’ve finished a meaningful journey. To further add to the cruelty, the temperatures in summer shoot up much quickly and that can wear a tyre down much faster than usual. Here’s what you need to keep in check:
Get all five tyres filled up with correct tyre pressure. What is the correct tyre pressure? That’s mentioned on your car’s manual. Just don’t mix it up with the maximum tyre pressure reading that is mentioned on the side-wall of the tyre. Ensure that you get the tyres inflated to the recommended limit before you begin your journey as friction also adds up to the tyre pressure. That means if you measure the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) pressure reading before you start your journey and after you have been on the go for a while, they both will be different with the latter being on the higher side.
Check the tread on all the tyres. If you were planning to get a new set after summers, we’d recommend you get them before. Due to the high temperatures, tyre-wear is higher in summers than in any other season of the year. So, if you think you got through spring without any hiccups and will push through summers likewise, that might just be a bigger gamble for you than you actually anticipated.
It is all about shedding the excess heat that all the main components of the car withstand during summers. With temperatures easily crossing the 40-degree mark in most of the country, the engine, transmission and brakes can use all the lubrication that they can get. It is highly recommended that these are topped-up and checked for any leakages before you set off on your journey. In case of transmission fluid, ensure that it is clean and doesn’t have any unwanted residue. Even the smallest piece of dirt can create a recipe for the failure of the gearbox.
The last but by no means the least important aspect is air conditioning. Driving with a broken air conditioning system can be as bothersome in summers as driving with it on in full-blow mode in the sub-zero January temperatures in Ladhakh. Quite a contrast but the feeling is equally disturbing! So, before the sun drenches you in your sweat, get the AC checked for any leakages or a top-up for refrigerant gas. While you are at it, ask the mechanic to check the compressor’s health and that how well or unwell it is.
All that, is for your car. But you, as a driver need to note of a few things as well.
Pack the right stuff. Carrying the extra load, which you wont be using during your trip should be tossed out before you begin. This not only helps in returning better fuel-economy but also reduces the load on the car’s engine.
Drive at cruising speed. This doesn’t mean you should break the enforced speed limits. What it actually means is that you should try and change gears at lower rpm and avoid working the engine beyond its comfort-range.
Plan the route wisely. If you are heading out for a long journey, it is best that you work out the best route possible. It doesn’t necessarily means that it is shortest one. Ideally it should be the best possible combination of good tarmac, availability of fuel-stations and rest stops and isn’t disturbingly deserted.
Take regular rest stops. This again holds true for longer journeys. Even if you stop for half an hour to stretch your legs and gulp a pint of caffeine, it will help you concentrate at your job of driving much better.
So there you have it. A consolidated list to keep you and your car healthy during those searing summer days. At the end of the day, everything revolves around one basic mantra - you take of your car and your car takes care of you!