The holiday season is here! Schools are breaking up for Christmas and we’re all getting ready for visits to family and friends over the next few weeks. If you’ve had a busy year, then it’s likely that your car has too and could be in need of a little attention before you take to the road this summer.
Here at Cooper Automotive we’ve put together some top tips that will help keep you and your family safe on the roads.
1. Top up the fluids
If you haven't driven your car on longer distances much during the winter then you will need to check all of the fluid levels -- coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid- to make sure there weren't any leaks.
2. Change oil and filter
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. It keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Due to Tasmanian driving conditions (mainly short distances) we recommend that you change your engine oil and filter at least every six months or 10,000km which ever comes first. The fact is, most of us do a lot of heavy driving during the summer holidays when an engine is more likely to overheat. So at least check your oil before you head out on that road trip with the family.
3. Check your tyres
An under-inflated, over-inflated, worn down or misaligned tyre can be extremely dangerous, particularly in hot summer weather.
Tyre pressure changes with the rising temperatures -- approximately one to two PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree increase in outside air temperature. Consult your owner's manual or the manufacturer’s tyre placard usually found inside the drivers door to see what your tyre pressure should be and check it with a hand pressure gauge or just let the guys at the service centre do it for you.
It’s also important to get your tyres checked for proper alignment and balance and ensure the tread hasn’t worn down too much.
And don't forget about your spare! There's no point in having a spare tyre if it’s in worse condition than the rest. Make sure the spare is properly inflated and has ample tread depth.
4. Give your car a really good clean
While many of us regularly clean the outside body of our cars on a weekend it's also important to clean the undercarriage of the car. If you’ve been on rural or unsealed roads that get a bit muddy with rain you can be sure that dirt will have accumulated underneath. You can clean the undercarriage yourself using a plain water hose or high-pressure cleaning system. Many professional car washes and detailing services can also perform a high-pressure steam clean that reaches underneath.
5. Check hoses and belts
It's important in summer to keep the engine cool, so you’ll need to check the hoses and belts. The hoses connected to the radiator help pump coolant to and from the engine block, and the belts run the fan that helps cool the system further. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded.
Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable. Hoses suffer from a slow deterioration process called electrochemical degradation (ECD) that eats away at rubber hose material from the inside. The most vulnerable parts of the hose are those nearest to clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine.
Belts can also be visually checked for cracks and damage. Take note if the belt looks excessively slick or smooth. Remove the belt to make sure that the material hasn't started separating into different layers. Experts say the risk of belt failure rises dramatically after 60,000 kilometres.
If you'd like your car professionally checked over before Christmas just give us a call on 1300 15 15 55 to book in at any of our service centres.