Preparing your car for the summer season is not only about changing tires. There are a number of other activities that will give us peace of mind during the hectic rides in the hot days. Some of them can be done independently, others should be entrusted to professionals – such as maintenance of the running gear, brake and exhaust systems.
Let’s check what we can do with our own hands, saving on expensive car service when preparing your car for summer.
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Thorough cleaning of the car inside
Even if it hasn’t been a particularly harsh winter, less frequent visits to the car wash during the cold lead to dirt sticking harder to the paint and penetrating all the nooks and crannies. In addition, road salt may have deposited in the cavities and accumulated moisture, provoking corrosion.
Having waited for steady warm weather, we shall begin with banal cleaning. This process is not much different from tidying up your apartment:
Step 1. First, we throw out unnecessary items and put the right ones in their places.
Step 2. Then we’ll vacuum the trunk, interior, seats and mats. Note: you can find real treasures under the seats – money, jewelry and other small items, lost and forgotten;
Step 3. Next, you need to wash and dry the rubber mats, the recesses of which are probably clogged with the remains of winter dirt.
Step 4. The next step is to wash the windows, wipe off the dust in the interior, and refresh the interior details. For this purpose, it is best to use the right auto-cosmetics, which will additionally refresh the appearance of surfaces, as well as protect against aging and fading, prolong the life of delicate elements and reduce dust formation.
To care for plastic, rubber, chrome and glass parts, you should use special agents recommended for working with such materials. Do not forget about upholstery refurbishment: with the help of cosmetics suitable for it, restore its appearance and get rid of unsightly stains.
If you wish, you can add disinfection of the interior to the series of measures for general care (relevant in the times of COVID-19).
Step 5. When the interior is shiny, let’s take care of the fragrance. Travelling in a fresh-scented cabin is much more comfortable, so use odor neutralizers or air fresheners that smell like summer and vacation – for example, with notes of freshly sliced watermelon.
Let’s continue the basic cleaning procedures outside by using a touchless professional car wash. Although this operation is not the cheapest, it is worth doing it at least twice a year, and in between, if there is a desire, to wash a car with bare hands. To save money, this step can be done with a compact home pressure washer.
Starting to wash the car, you must properly prepare. First, choose the right closet: no buttons and zippers, so as not to scratch the body with close contact. Secondly, purchase the appropriate car care products – shampoo, polish, wipes, and so on.
Let’s remind you: body cleaning is done from top to bottom. And do not spare water for rinsing. Generous shower will prevent detergent residue from settling in nooks and crannies. For wiping choose soft, well-absorbent cloths. This process can be supported by a special dehumidifier – it will save you time and help remove moisture from hard-to-reach places.
After that, you can begin to regenerate the paint coating. Sand scattered on winter roads along with aggressive chemicals can damage the paint, get into the gaps between the plates and initiate corrosion processes. Washing will remove dangerous particles, and specialized lotions and pastes will allow you to polish the varnish harmlessly and gently.
The next step is to start waxing. It is usually carried out two or three times a year to protect the body from micro-damage and to prevent dirt from easily sticking. Here it is necessary to splurge on a special car wax and polishing cloths.
Finally, wash the chassis and wheels thoroughly. To achieve the desired results, use disc cleaners and other suitable auto chemicals. Carry out this procedure yourself or entrust the service to a specialized workshop – the choice depends on how much you are limited in funds and value your own time.
Mechanical condition of the car
What can be checked in the car independently, having saved a lot of money for car-care center? Contrary to expectations, very much. You do not need any specialized tools for this, and just a couple of hours of free time is enough.
Step 1: Firstly, look under the hood: check the condition of rubber parts, hoses, joints, and service fluids – cooling and brake in particular.
We pay special attention to engine oil. Winter compositions are replaced by summer ones, and you should pay attention to the level and quality of liquids. If something is missing, make up for the loss, or if you have doubts about the freshness, replace the old composition with a new one.
Observe two rules: check oil condition on cold engine (and top up too), coolant – on warmed up engine (but top up on cold one). The winter fluid will not adversely affect the condition of the irrigation system, but contains more alcohol than the summer one, so it is more expensive.
Step 2. Don’t forget about scheduled “rotations”. If the interval of replacement of timing belt or other key element is approaching, it is not worth pulling till the last moment: in case of sudden failure the costs will be disproportionately higher. Also check the condition of the battery. Winter puts a lot of stress on it, and it may stop working at the most inopportune moment. If the battery is more than 4-5 years old, it will probably need to be replaced. Also inspect the electrodes and clamps for corrosion and signs of acid leakage.
Step 3. To check the suspension after a hard winter test, an experienced driver only needs to drive over a bumpy road. But it is better to sacrifice some money by requesting a series of tests at the inspection station.
This procedure will determine the condition of individual running components and the correctness of the camber. An experienced diagnostician will tell you if any parts need to be replaced and if the knocks you hear are harmless.
The same applies to the brakes. With this approach, you can be assured that any problems will be identified and corrected ahead of time, without searching at random.
Step 4: Servicing your air conditioner should also be entrusted to the experts. Even if it’s running without any alarming symptoms, have your system professionally serviced at least once a year. It includes renewing the refrigerant and lubricant to extend the life of the components involved, replacing the cabin filter and thoroughly cleaning the evaporator. Disinfection is always relevant, and microorganisms multiply very quickly on these elements.
Change of tires
The first thing to do is to remove the winter tires from the car. They wear out very quickly on hot and dry surfaces, so to the deteriorated driving qualities we will add a large financial expense if we do not change the set in time.
Before installing, check the condition of the summer tires. Depth of tread should not be less than 3 mm – but it is a critical point, it is better to adhere to the normal parameters of 5-7 mm.
The depth is checked in a simple way, e.g. with a match. Place it perpendicular to the tire surface so that it is in the notch. Mark the place on the stick where the tread reaches with a pencil and then measure the distance with a ruler. A tire with too shallow a tread will reduce traction and negatively affect safety. By the way, we can use wider products in summer than in winter if we want better traction.
Removed winter tires should be washed, dried and coated with a special compound. Curing foams and silicone oil-based liquids will keep them in top condition and prevent them from cracking over time.
Inspecting the Wipers
Good visibility is very important when driving. Spring and summer are frequent rains and severe storms, so we’ll need high-performance windshield wipers. And their condition after winter can be deplorable. Frequent freezing and thawing, icing at night and hard work every morning to clear snow blockages on the glass do not contribute to the wellbeing of these delicate elements. We should be alert to the streaks on the window, any visible flaws in the rubber strips or strange sounds when the mechanism works. In some cases you can get by with reconstruction of the brushes, others will require complete replacement of the wipers.
Stocking up on sunscreen remedies
A number of effective products offered by auto-cosmetics departments will not only get rid of dirt on the car, but also protect important surfaces, including plastic, rubber, leather and fabric, from heat and damage from direct sunlight. Don’t skimp on them, because a properly maintained interior wears out more slowly.
In addition to liquid and foam compounds that provide interior materials with durability and pleasing to the eye aesthetics, you can buy side window sunscreens, all-weather windshield cover or reflective screen. There are many products of this kind, they can be chosen for all tastes and wallets, and the application does not require expensive specialists.