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Old 23-11-2016, 10:49 PM
Holly Goodhead's Avatar
Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Smile Red hot tips for Summer Driving

Red hot tips for Summer Driving

Vehicle Preventive Checks for Summer

The preventive maintenance of your vehicle, enhances safeguard against breakdowns, prevents from unexpected vehicle failures, and prolongs vehicle life. Regular checks and controls of your vehicle, should make driving safer, smoother and even less expensive into the upcoming summer period. Therefore, please take a look the following issues, you may find useful tips or something that you might not consider.

1. Check the Levels of All Vehicle Fluids

1. Check the Levels of All Vehicle Fluids
Checking the fluids regularly prevents from mechanical failures and prolongs the life of the vehicle parts and components. For start let's see some basic processes for checking the levels and conditions of the used fluids, such as: engine oil, engine coolant liquid (antifreeze), windscreen washer fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission oil. Beside the basic checks of levels, also, don't forget visually to inspect that there are not any leaks.

The engine oil

should be checked after the engine cools down for an hour or more, so the oil in the return galleries, cylinder head valleys, etc. can drained down so you don't get a false reading. Additionally, consider to change the engine oil, since oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter or if you frequently drive a short distances when the engine can not reach working temperature. It is recommended to take a look into your owner's manual to find more information about types of engine oils which can be used in your engine, regular replacement intervals, as well as information about other types of mentioned liquids.

To check the brake fluid,

you must take a look at reservoir on the driver side under the hood. You can visually check the level just by looking at the outside of the reservoir, which usually is made from semi-transparent plastic.

To learn more about brake fluids compatibility, DOT types and testing, please take a look my recent article.

The engine coolant liquid (antifreeze)

does more than just keep from freezing. It actually helps keep your engine’s cooling system running smoothly and more efficiently. Its content is enhanced with more additives for improving the properties as well as anti-corrosion agents to reduce the wear of the system. The most important part for the summer period, when the temperatures are increased, is that the antifreeze has increased boiling point compared with the pure water. This allows the coolant liquid to absorb more heat, as any liquid used for cooling is only good until it boils. So, it is not recommended to fill up the system with pure water. On most vehicles, you can check the level of coolant at the overflow tank (usually marked with "cold" and "hot" level or "min" and "max"). Typically aspect ratios are 50:50, glycol (antifreeze) to water. Be sure to use the correct type for your vehicle. If you need to fill up the system you should do that when the engine is cold. Be sure the coolant level to exceed the "min" mark, i.e. to be between "min" and "max" marks.

Important advice: Never remove the radiator cap from a hot engine, the coolant liquid is extremely hot and under the pressure!

2. Check the Rubber Hoses and Drive Belts

Visually Inspect your engine drive belts and rubber hoses from any damage such as: cracks, fraying, splits, damaged edges, missing chunks, glazing, leakage, swelling or other signs of damage. The heat combined with the humidity of summer period will only make these conditions worse, and might cause unexpected breakdown at an inopportune moment. If you find something suspicious, you should make a replacement. The drive belt should be replaced even and when it is found to be soaked in oil.

Also, to work properly, a drive belt must be under proper tension. In older vehicle generations, belt tension must be adjusted manually. Usually, you would hear a loud screeching noise when the engine is started if the drive belt is loose. In cars with manual adjustment, the belt tension must be checked during regular services and adjusted if necessary. Today, most cars are equipped with maintenance-free spring-loaded or even hydraulic belt tensioners, so the adjustment of proper tension is automatically.

3. Check the Battery and Charging System

Batteries can fail any time of the year. If you haven't used your battery in a while, you might need a recharge or a replacement. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment, but still you can make some basic checks even without using any special tools or battery testers. First scrape away corrosion from pins and cable connections, clean all surfaces, check all connections and re-tighten if necessary. Additionally, if the battery caps are removable, check the level of acid, fill all cells up to marked signs with clean distilled water if necessary.

Important advice: For your safety, it is recommended to wear eye protection and rubber gloves to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.

If you have electrical multimeter (or DC voltmeter) you can check the stand-by voltage of the battery as well as charging voltage while the engine is in running order.

Battery voltage should be higher than 12.6 DC volts immediately after charging (after a long time of engine run, for example), so, shortly can be expected even more that 13.5 volts. A freshly charged battery is not a good candidate for checking the charge level. To get more accurate indication is better to check the voltage after the engine is off at least for few hours. Here are a few voltage values that indirectly indicate about the state of battery charge:

Any open terminal voltage (no battery load) drastically below 11.9 volts is considered full discharge or a dead battery.

The actual charging voltage produced by the alternator will vary depending on temperature and load, but typically should be about 1.5 to 2 volts higher than battery voltage. At idle load, most charging systems will produce 13.8 to 14.4 volts without lights or other electrical consumers switched on (some systems may charge at a slightly higher voltage depending on temperature, engine rpm, type of battery, and the state of battery charge). This charging voltage can be measured by connecting the positive (+) pole and negative (−) pole test probes of a voltmeter to the battery pins while the engine is running (see the image above).

Note: At newer, more sophisticated vehicles with implemented battery management system, you may face-off with no charging voltage for a while, soon as engine starts for example, or later during the engine run with increased charging voltage, sometimes up to 16-17 volts. But, no need of concern or panic, that is a normal behavior of these systems. Usually, these states of charging remain short time, all depends of the actual conditions (temperature, engine rpm, number of activated electrical consumers, etc.), as well as used type of battery and management system.

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 23-11-2016 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 23-11-2016, 11:18 PM
Holly Goodhead's Avatar
Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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4. Check the Condition of Tires

When the temperatures on the road surface reaches above 7°C, you should consider about returning the summer tires. If you are still on winter tires and so far haven't replaced, before mount the summer tires you have to check few issues:

4.1 Tire Tread Depth

As your tires wear and tread depth decreases, your grip reduces and stopping distances increase in wet conditions. 1.6 mm is the legal minimum tread depth. However, grip in wet conditions reduces significantly if your tread depth gets below 3-4 mm. But, for your safety, it is best to replace them before reach 2-2.5 mm. Look for a triangle marks called Tread Wear Indicator (TWI) which typically appears in about six places around the sidewalls of the tire.

4.2 Tire Inflation Pressure

It's important to keep the right pressure in your tires as all tires slowly deflate over time. It's recommended to check the pressure on each tire at least once per month.

Temperature plays a major role in the tire pressure, so check your tires when they are cold before going anywhere, because as soon as you sit behind the wheel for an extended time period, the inflate pressure will rise up. That is normal behavior, as temperature rising, also the tire pressure rises, so if you had a long ride and noticed increased pressure, don't worry. To check the tire pressure when they are warm, just add 10-15% more of recommended pressure to get the correct pressure. Correct tire inflation pressure allows the driver to experience vehicle comfort, durability and designed performances which match the needs of the vehicle. Proper tire inflation pressure also stabilizes the tire structure, improving the responsiveness of the tires, traction and handling. Regarding to this (important in summer when road surface temperatures are increased), is recommended to inflate the tires with an inert gas (such as nitrogen for example), to get better tire-pressure retention, improved cooler-running tire temperatures, vehicle's handling and extended life of tires.

To find information about recommended inflation pressure for your tires, should take a look the sticker on the driver-side door jamb or inside of the fuel tank cap. This information, also can be found in your owner's manual.

4.3 Bulges (Bubbles) and Cracks on the Tire Sidewalls

The sidewall bulges (bubbles) indicate that the construction of internal frame of the tire sidewall has been damaged (cracked), allowing air pressure to reach the flexible outer layers of the tire. This kind of damages could be caused by driving through a big pothole or over a road curb as well as caused by driving with low inflation pressure. Driving tires which are with sidewall bulges is dangerous and is not recommended, so you should consider immediate replacement.

4.4 Rotate Tires Frequently

It is well known that the tire rotation is a simple and effective way for prolong tire life, so it deserves to be mentioned here and to provide a short explanation.

The figure under A shows the most recommended way how to make rotation (change) of the tires. All the tires are same size and you should rotate on every 5.000 to 10.000 km. This rotation period depend of the tire design as well as vehicle model.
The figure under B shows the most used and recommended way how to make rotation of the tires including and the spare tire.
The figure under C shows how to make rotation of the tires when is used different size of tires at front and rear axles.

5. Check the Condition of Brake Pads

Also, another preventive step, is to take a look and your brakes. At least you can visually inspect the condition of your brake pads and rotors (brake disks). Check the thickness of a friction surfaces for each brake pad and if they are wear down below 1.5-2 mm, then is needed replacement. Measure the thickness at both the top and the bottom side of the pad.

If this inspection is OK, than you can check the brake pedal pulsation at relatively higher vehicle speeds. If the pedal not feels smooth, i.e. gets pulsation, then the brake rotors are distorted (warped) and required a replacement.

6. Check the Air Conditioning System

If we consider the extremely high summer temperatures, I believe that for many drivers, the air conditioning (A/C) system is one of the most important issue and sure deserves to take its place within these checks. Here few steps that you can follow:

First make sure that the A/C system blowing cold air. Also, make sure the A/C condenser (the front A/C radiator) is free of any barriers, such as leaves, insects or similar dirt. That may reduce the airflow, i.e. to result with worsened efficiency of the overall A/C system. Try to clean the front A/C radiator with a strong water jet if necessary. Don't forget to check and cabin A/C air filter, too. If it is dirty, you need to replace with new one.

Inspect all A/C and cooling system hoses for cuts, abrasion, weak spots, and signs of leakage. Leakage from A/C system hoses is often indicated by an accumulation of dirt and oil, particularly at connections and fittings.

Check the air blowing temperature with a thermometer placed deep enough into one of the air blower canals of driver console. The reading depends of the ambient temperature, and the measured value should be about 10-18°C. It is recommended at least every two years to re-fill the system with new refrigerant to bring the system up to full charge, as well as to free of accumulated moisture. Combined with metal and refrigerant, moisture can cause the formation of oxides and acids, which affecting badly for the efficiency of the system and its exploitation period.

Finally, the inspection of your vehicle to be completed, is necessary also to check and the rest unmentioned issues, such as: lights and bulbs, condition of wipers, dashboard warning lights, suspension and shock absorbers, all flexible joint connections of undercarriage (cv joint, ball joint, etc.), as well as electrical fuse boxes, terminals and connectors with respect to corrosion and cleanliness, etc.

Something you should always have on your mind: For each mentioned issue in this article or any other specified issue related to preventive maintenance, always check your owner's manual to find recommendations about specific replacement intervals, as well as all others maintenance tips related to your vehicle type.


This help topic is subject to changes without notification. The information within is carefully checked and considered to be correct. This information is an example of our investigations and findings and is not a definitive procedure. The Sixties Garage accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Each vehicle may be different and require unique test settings.

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 25-02-2017 at 08:43 PM.
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