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Stay Safe This Summer: How to Maintain Your Car in the Warmer Months

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Summertime calls for road trips, adventures, the wind in your hair and sand beneath your feet. It is the perfect time of year to take a long drive, explore a new area and start ticking off the bucket list. As Australians, we are fortunate to have so many local wonders that are just a car journey away! However, on the downside, our summers are also harsh on both us and our cars. Novus is here with our list of summertime maintenance tips to avoid getting caught out while in the middle of a hot road somewhere. Following these could help safeguard your trip and avoid costly repairs or damage to you or your vehicle!

What to Check on Your Car Before Your Road Trip

Before you jump in your car on your next adventure, we suggest you make sure your vehicle doesn’t require any maintenance. Going on a road trip with any significant repairs would be a receipt for disaster and a short summer holiday.

1. Check your tyre pressure

Often the most overlooked part of a car, tyres deserve all-year-round attention. After all, they play a significant role in your safety, like being able to brake sufficiently. But, unfortunately, the most common issue with tyre maintenance is that air pressure is frequently checked incorrectly.

To find the correct tyre pressure for your car, check your vehicle’s manual. Over or underinflation leads to wear and tear, so it’s essential to get the correct figure when checking. You should do this at least once every month. If you need further convincing, checking your tyre inflation regularly leads to better fuel economy. It’s estimated to affect fuel efficiency by up to 20 per cent.

As tyre pressures change with rising temperatures, underinflated or worn down tyres can become dangerous. Under enough heat and pressure, your tyres have the potential to blow. Whilst we’re on the topic of blown tyres, it’s good to get into the habit of carrying a spare, especially if you are an avid road tripper. The last thing you want is to run a flat with no replacement on your road trip.

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2. Change your car’s oil and filter

The engine is the heart of your car, responsible for being the driving force, so it’s crucial to ensure this vital component is not damaged or dirty. The engine oil acts to cool the engine and lubricate the internal parts to prevent corrosion. If your car’s oil is dirty, or worse, low or empty, then your vehicle is under threat of ceasing work. This is a recipe for disaster, which could land you stranded waiting for help in the heat.

To prevent this from becoming a reality, it’s essential to change your oil per your car’s manual regularly. We suggest you check this before you set off on your road trip for safety and peace of mind. If you forget, look out for signs such as the temperature gauge pointing toward the “Check Engine” or “Temperature” zone on your dashboard. This is typically the first warning sign.

Your car’s engine is also more likely to overheat during the summer months when a radiator fan could be broken or the oil is low or contaminated. To troubleshoot this, you can check your car’s oil by popping your vehicle’s hood to check for the oil and water levels. If your oil is low, don’t panic, it can be topped up or changed at the local service station.

3. Replace your windscreen wipers

As beautiful as Australian summer can be, it often brings about unexpected torrential rain and storms. As our visibility is crucial for our ability to see and judge where other cars are on the road, heavy rain can be incredibly dangerous. To combat the elements, it’s necessary to ensure your wipers are in top condition to help keep you safe from potentially hazardous weather.

If you notice your wipers are leaving visible streaks on the windshield, that is a key indicator they need to be replaced. Unfortunately, pushing out your windshield wipers maintenance means you risk the metal brackets coming into contact with your windshield. Not only will this leave scratches that interrupt your line of vision, but it’ll also mean a windshield repair is on your horizon.

Remember, whenever you are caught in extreme weather conditions, the best option is to stop and rest, waiting out the storm on the roadside. If this isn’t possible, make sure your headlights are turned on, and slow down.

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4. Check your brakes

Your brakes are the most important safety feature on your car, so you should replace them at any sign of faultiness. Like other components of our vehicles, the brakes are also sensitive to temperature shifts. The hotter the braking system and clutch components get during summer, the greater chance their ability to grip will change.

So how will you know if your brakes are faulty? Good question. If you notice your brake pedals becoming soft, resistant, or make loud noises when in use, you should have them checked immediately. These are all signs that something in the braking system isn’t working optimally. We know life can get busy, especially in the lead up to a holiday. But if your brakes aren’t seen to earlier on, the cost of a brake repair can quickly increase.

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5. Clean your battery

Hot weather can be extremely tough on your car battery and even lead to battery failure. Soaring summer temperatures can be responsible for accelerating the heat underneath your car’s hood. This sparks a chemical reaction, causing the battery to be overcharged, ultimately shortening the lifespan of your battery. The AAA reported responding to 1.8 million battery-related service calls in the summer of 2018, so it’s important to remember to avoid behaviours that’ll drain your battery. Choosing to park in the shade on your pitstops and cutting down on activities that drain your car battery, such as cranking the AC and plugging in electronics, will help preserve your battery.

6. Drive safely

Whilst driving safely sounds self-explanatory, road trips around the summertime in Australia can be more prone to accidents. Summertime is the prime time for school, Uni and Christmas holidays, so naturally, more people are on the roads. This, unfortunately, means there is a greater chance for accidents and repair costs, not the most ideal over the Christmas holidays, where many of us are budgeting and busy buying presents. So it is even more critical than usual to stay vigilant on the roads amongst the increased traffic.

How to maintain my car before a road trip

It’s easy to lose track of when your last service was. So if you are planning on heading out on a road trip, taking your car in for a service is a great idea. Things you can do to prepare for your road trip include:

  • Having a certified mechanic check over everything well before the date of your trip.
  • If you notice any flaws in your windshield, have them checked over with a professional as well. The last thing you want is a small crack to increase, or worse, shatter, whilst on your trip.
  • If there are any issues found, have them fixed straight away. We suggest a week or two before your trip, so if your car does require maintenance, you’ll have ample time. Having your repairs seen earlier often also means it’ll be cheaper to have them repaired rather than leaving them for longer after they have caused further damage to your vehicle.

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How Novus Can Help

Ultimately, having significant issues with your car while on an anticipated, exciting road trip is a sure way of dampening your holiday. Therefore, to ensure you enjoy this summer and stay safe, it is vital to maintain your vehicle regularly and accordingly.

For any further tips and advice on general vehicle maintenance and care, visit the Novus blog. If you’ve noticed a crack, chip or flaw in your windscreen, don’t hesitate to book a service with Novus today or contact our friendly staff for any inquiries you may have.