The days are brighter and the temperature is on the up, summer is on the way. And there’s no time like the present to get your car ready for the warmer months ahead.
From checking your car’s lights and tyres to giving it a clean and topping up your fluids. Whether you are planning a road trip with your friends and family or commuting to work, here are our top 9 maintenance tips for you this summer.
1. Make sure you have a valid NCT certificate
Let’s start with the most important thing. If you plan to drive anywhere this summer, you’ll need a valid NCT certificate. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it’s the only way to guarantee that your car is safe to drive.
It’s not uncommon for parts to seize and bulbs to blow when you’re not using your car, especially when the temperature is very hot and car cooling systems have to work much harder. An NCT will identify faults and make sure all parts meet the legal standards.
If your car is due an NCT, locate your local First Stop garage to book to a pre NCT check. It’s also worth checking when your car is due a service, as you can combine the two to save time and money.
2. Tyre checks
Your tyres are the only point of contact between you and the road, so you must look after them. But also check tyre pressure, tyre punctures, and for any damage regularly.
Take the chance to check your tyres visually, making sure there aren’t any bulges or cuts. Then, check the tyre tread depth adheres to the legal limit. Anything below 1.6mm is illegal in the UK.
If you’re still unsure, we can always check them for you, just swing by your local garage. If a tyre needs replacing, we can help you choose a tyre and fit it too.
3. Make sure your battery has juice
If you haven’t used your car much lately, your battery may have drained. And the last thing you want when you get in your car for a much-deserved road trip is for your battery to be flat. How annoying would that be!
Checking your car’s battery is simple. If you have a battery charger, you can do it at home with no problems. Or you can head to your local First Stop garage for a full battery healthy check. We’ll get you back on the road in no time.
4. Top up your fluids
Much like your car’s battery, you’ll want to make sure your car’s fluids are at the right level too. This includes refilling your AdBlue, brake fluid, coolant, engine oil, and screenwash.
Your engine oil is arguably the most important. Most cars use a thinner oil in winter that flows easier when it’s cold. When the warmer weather hits, it’s wise to opt for thicker oil that will increase your car’s performance and longevity.
If you need to change your oil, it’s worth checking when your car is due a service, as an oil change is part of it. If you’re not ready for a service but need to change your oil, head to your local First Stop for an oil change.
5. Are your bulbs working (and bright)?
Even though the days are longer and brighter, you’ll still need your headlights. So before your next car journey, have a walk around your car and check that all your lights are working. This includes your brake and reverse lights, which you can check with the help of a friend or relative. Make sure you check the bulb casings as well, as dirt and grime can dim the light.
And remember, your lights should shine consistently. So if you have one brake light that’s out, for example, replace them both. We offer an expert bulb changing service if you’d rather not attempt it yourself. We’ll remove your old bulbs and fit new ones for you.
6. Are your wheels aligned?
UK roads are notoriously bad and plastered in potholes. While hitting them causes you discomfort, it can wreak havoc on your car’s wheel alignment too.
But how can you check this? Well, if your car pulls to one side when you’re driving, this can be a sign that the alignment is off. Not only is this annoying, but it also puts extra tension on your tyres, causing them to wear out quicker.
Like most car-related issues, the longer you leave this the worse it gets. So, if your car is veering to one side, head to your local garage for a wheel alignment check.
7. Are your windscreen wipers working?
Few things are more annoying than faulty windscreen wipers. If it’s not the irritating noise, it’s the smeared windscreen. And while we’re edging closer to summer, you still never know when you’ll need them. This is the UK, after all.
Most windscreen wipers have a shelf life of six months to a year, so if you can’t remember the last time you replaced them, it’s probably time for a new set.
But before you rush out to replace them, top up your windscreen fluid and see if this makes a difference. On the odd occasion, a good clean can be all they need. Though, if they still leave streaks or make a noise, it’s time to replace them.
At First Stop, we’ll make sure you’re ready for rain with a range of windscreen wipers from top brands. It’s quite a fiddly job, so head to your nearest store and let us deal with it.
8. Give your car a good clean (and don’t forget to blast the undercarriage)
When you’re doing your cleaning, make sure you include your car.
It’s not just the cold temperatures that can affect your car’s performance. Salt, dirt, grit and grime can build up on your car’s underside, causing rust and corrosion if you don’t remove it.
So if you haven’t already, load up your pressure washer and give your car a thorough spray down. Pay close attention to underneath the bumpers, beneath the wheel wells and anywhere else that dirt can settle. From here, you can go about your usual cleaning routine.
If you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself, now would be a good time to pay a professional to do it for you.
9. Try your AC too
The last thing you want on a hot summer’s day is to find out your air conditioning doesn’t work. Running your air conditioning for 15 minutes once a month — even in winter — can help make it last longer.
Running your AC keeps the system fresh and active. Plus, if it’s not working, you’ll know to get it fixed before summer (when you need it). Our air conditioning service will check your entire system, including pressure and other elements.
There you have it. Wave goodbye wet days with our summer checklist. While these are the most important things to remember, you’ll find a complete list of our services online.