With the cold, dark evenings of lockdown in our rear view and everything on track with the proposed roadmap, we can start looking forward to a summer of fun and freedom once again. But if your car's been out of action lately, making sure it's up to the task of all those day trips and driving holidays is crucial.
From a thorough spring clean and making sure the tyres are in top condition, to protecting bodywork from sun damage, we'll show you how to get your car ready for the summer months ahead.
During winter, your car's bound to have gone through all sorts of mud, grit and hail, all of which take their toll on the exterior. Give your motor some TLC and clean the bodywork with a good quality car shampoo. Remember: avoid letting your car dry in the sun as this create water spots. Instead, dry things off with a rubber or silicone squeegee or a non-shedding microfibre cloth.
As for the underside, it'll have seen its fair share of salt, grit and dirt. You'll want to use a hose to spray down the exposed areas underneath to stop these parts from rusting or corroding. Alternatively, a car wash with an undercarriage wash system will be able to take care of this underside grime.
You won't want to hit the road when the interior's littered with old receipts, food packaging and other bits of rubbish either. Before any deep clean of your car, throw out the trash that's gathered over the past few months, and consider buying a bin specifically designed for cars to stop it from happening again.
After that, wipe down any spills and stains on the windows, dashboard, gearstick and wheels with specially designed car wipes – keep them in your glove compartment so they're on hand for any further messes. For more on how to clean different interior materials in your car, we've covered everything you need to know here.
And if you'll be going on adventures with the little ones in tow, then consider getting organisers you can hang on the backs of seats to keep their toys and other belongings in one place.
You'll find plenty more spring-cleaning ideas, including how to go about giving your car a deep clean, in our Ultimate Checklist here.
First of all, you'll want to inspect your tyres for any cuts or bulges, as well as checking that the tyre tread is above the legal limit. You can confirm this by placing a 20p coin in the tyre tread; if the outer band is obscured, then your tread is above the legal limit.
Your tyres should also be correctly inflated. Incorrectly inflated tyres could cause a blow out when driving and can affect your fuel consumption too. Your vehicle handbook will tell you everything you need to know about inflating them.
If it's necessary, you might have to change your tyres. Want to give it a go yourself? Check out our guide to DIY tyre changes here, but if you'd prefer to have an expert do it, then one of The Brindley Group's garages will be more than happy to help.
All the coolants, antifreeze, oil and power steering fluid that go into your car lose their potency over time, affecting your car's performance. That's why it's important to check and top up your fluids in time for the summer.
There are different checks that are required for each fluid. Take a look at our quick how-tos for each type below:
Engine oil: Your car will have a dipstick in the engine for inspecting the oil. Allow the car and oil to cool for 10 minutes before checking, then pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a towel. Reinsert it and pull it back out; the maximum and minimum indicators show how much oil is in your engine. Below the minimum? Fill it up immediately – a low reading might mean your engine is leaking or burning oil which causes damage if left untreated.
The condition of the oil is also important. Smear the oil on your fingers – if it's gritty instead of slick and smooth then it's likely because it’s wearing out, which is a big problem. It should also be yellow in colour. A darker coffee colour means it's time for a change, while a milk colour shows that coolant is leaking into the engine.
Coolant: Check that the coolant level falls between the minimum and maximum indicators on the tank. If not, you’ll need to top it up and monitor the level; if it continues to decrease, this could indicate a leak in the cooling system.
Before you add the coolant, make sure it's OK to use in your vehicle and allow the radiator a few minutes to release any trapped air bubbles before you put the cap back on.
Power steering fluid: Look for either a dipstick or reservoir in the engine bay. Both have minimum and maximum markings, so if the fluid is low top it off with fluid that's approved for your vehicle.
Frequently topping up your power steering fluid is probably a sign there's a leak and your car will become harder and harder to steer if it's not checked.
Brake fluid: The majority of cars have a brake fluid reservoir in the engine bay, so it's simply a case of looking at its level. Make sure it falls between the minimum and maximum indicators. Add more if it's below the minimum; just make sure it's compatible with your car.
Keep an eye on how it looks too. Regardless of colour, brake fluid should always be translucent. If it's cloudy then be sure to replace it.
Windscreen wiper wash: During the Great British Summer, we're bound to still have some rain, so make sure your wiper wash is topped off. All you need to do is pour the fluid into the reservoir until it’s full, close the cap and you're good to go.
For more car maintenance and safety checks before you hit the road this summer, check out our guide here.