6 Things to do for your Car this Summer
Australians love road trips and it is embedded in our culture - whether it be caravans trips, barbeques and family getaways. Summer is fast approaching and we know temperatures can cross 45 degrees Celsius in New South Wales. When things get hot on road trips, you need to take special care of yourself, your family and your car too!
1. Stay Hydrated
When going on long road trips make sure you stock up on water for yourself and stay hydrated at all the times. As a general rule, keep 8 litres of water per person travelling if your next destination is 24 hours away. You may not like this, but avoid taking any caffeine. Caffeine should be avoided because it is a diuretic substance. This means it makes your body lose water faster. So this means no Red Bulls, soft drinks and coffees. Instead, substitute that with a lot of fruit juice so that your electrolyte levels are up as they get depleted faster through excessive sweating in summers - and we don’t want that to happen. Staying hydrated also improves your alertness on the road.
2. Car Battery
Most people think that it is only in winters that car batteries need special attention. Surprisingly, the biggest enemy of your car battery is not actually winter, but summers. Car batteries are composed of electrolytes. That means they are composed of chemicals in their liquid state. In summers, the temperature under the hood would be higher than usual. Like you in hot temperatures, the battery’s electrolytes evaporate faster and become dehydrated. This results in a decreased capacity of the battery to hold charge and ultimately results in a shorter battery life. It also causes corrosion at the battery terminals. If you find any corrosive build up, make sure you clean it up with a cloth. If the build-up is severe, you may have to use sandpaper to remove it. When cleaning, make sure that the battery is held securely as excessive vibrations can also cause damage to the battery. Make sure you also get your battery checked up by a technician in your routine car maintenance regime.
If there is a problem with your battery, the worst that can happen is that you need to get it changed. Not in the case of coolants. If your coolant leaks and you miss the engine temperature reading, this can cause your engine to stop working. In summers there is additional stress on the car’s coolant system. This comprises of the coolant fluid, the car radiator and the radiator fan which works full time in extreme heats. Some serious off-roaders even keep a spare radiator fan belt to prevent any nasty surprises from happening. Before venturing out, make sure you check your coolant status and pay particular attention to if there are any leaks. The easiest way to do that is to see if there is any green slimy liquid under your car when you take your car in the morning. Make sure you plug any leakages as you do not want any excess air bubbles in the car’s coolant system. Also, make sure there is always spare coolant fluid especially when you are going on longer drives.
4. Engine Oil and Other fluids
In summers, all the car fluids experience stress as they expand and reach their critical working threshold. Due to the fact that these fluids are warmer than usual, they put additional stress on the pipes carrying these fluids which can lead to leakages. This means you need to check your engine oil (the old dipstick method), transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid. All these fluids correspond to critical parts in the car affecting the very safety of the people inside it. Don’t forget, before leaving for a long-haul journey; get these fluids checked by an expert - the last thing you want while driving is your brake fluid leaking and causing problems.
Imagine you are in the middle of the outback and it is 45 degrees outside. And you get a flat tire. To make matters worse, your car jack breaks. To avoid all this from happening, always have a backup - carry a spare jack and check your spare tire. Many people assume that if the spare tire hasn’t been used then it is in good condition, but that is not necessarily the case. Always check your tires for wear and tear. Some tires have built-in indicators and can also be used to see if any maintenance needs to be done change. Apart from the above pre-emptive checks, another sign of potential tire issues is unnatural vehicle vibration while driving. If you feel these unnatural vibrations then you may want to get your car’s wheel alignment checked.
6. Spares and Survival Kit
Just in case the above honed in a point yet - when going on long road trips in summer, make sure you keep spares of everything important. Redundancy will help you to cope with potential mishaps much better. Keep a spare jack as you do not want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no help just because your jack broke while changing a tire. For tires, some serious off-roaders keep 2 spare tires. Always keep in mind the distance you will be going on your road trip and be considerate of the potential things which you may need without others being there to help.
Apart from the above, we have a list of survival gear which you should keep with yourself:
- First Aid Kit
- GPS/ Maps
- Tire gauge
- Duct tape
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Tow rope
- A big knife and a smaller Swiss knife
- A funnel
- Emergency Snacks
- Portable electronics batteries and charging cables