Summer’s here! Can your car take the heat?
Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA)

Just like us, vehicles act differently in cold and hot weather. They are not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to temperature, which is why it’s important to check certain components when there is a change of season.

While there still seems to be some debate around whether South Africa is in for a dry or “normal” spring and summer in terms of rainfall, the fact remains it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to safety on the road, says the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud affiliate of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI).

“Safe journeys start with a well-maintained car. Not only should you book your car into a reputable workshop for a service at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer, but also take heed of annual and seasonal checks that should be done,” MIWA chairperson Dewald Ranft says.

Here are MIWA’s top 5 summer checks to be done and why:

1.         Coolant. While you may be cursing and overheating in scorching summer temps, it’s important your car isn’t. Your vehicle needs anti-freeze throughout the year, not only in winter. The same chemical characteristic that lowers the freezing point also raises the boiling point of the liquid, preventing your vehicle from overheating in summer. A common cause of vehicle breakdowns in summer is due to the coolant system failing. Coolant helps to protect your engine from corrosion, aids heat transfer and prevents rust and scales from building up. In hot temperatures, it prevents your engine from overheating by raising the boiling point of the water in the cooling system.

2.         Battery. A car battery doesn’t like the cold but can also fail in extreme high temperatures. Summer heat is tougher on car batteries than winter’s chill. Higher temperatures have a greater impact on the power-generating chemistry inside, and it’s not just about air temperature. Hot summer temperatures drive up the heat under the bonnet and accelerate the onset of battery failure. To avoid being stranded on the side of the road, it is advisable to be proactive about servicing and replacing a car battery. During an inspection, the workshop should check the battery’s charge, the condition of the terminals and how securely the battery is mounted in the engine bay, as excessive vibration can shorten battery life.

3.         Air conditioner. Summer is when most motorists reach for their AC on-switch in the car. If the AC stops working in a heat wave, it becomes stiflingly hot in the car so imagine driving this way on a long trip. Ensure your AC is summer-ready by changing the air filter, running it on the coldest setting on a weekly basis for at least 10 minutes to ensure that the car’s gas pressure is maintained and keeping your car clean so dust and bacteria don’t settle in the air conditioning system.

4.         Oil. As the temperature rises, the engine must work harder to maintain optimal performance, which can lead to increased wear and tear. Fresh oil provides better lubrication and heat protection, reducing friction between engine parts and preventing potential damage.

5.         Tyre tread. Check the tread and ensure tyres are properly inflated. Good tyre tread helps in channelling water away from the tyres, reducing the risk of hydroplaning.

“If you are concerned about any of these components or any other on your vehicle, don’t chance it. Be prepared before the summer rain and heat hits. It’s lovely for you to sit next to a swimming pool in this weather, but have you thought about how your car will react if it hits a pool of water on the road?

“Get to an accredited workshop and ask them to advise you on what needs to be done to ensure your car is summer-ready,” Ranft says.