What to do with your cars this summerBy Botchi Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
FOR many a car enthusiast, his or her own car/s are like a faithful friend, that though sometimes difficult and temperamental (like my own cars!), we look for activities to do together this summer. I thought of some activities which can allow both car and owner/driver to enjoy summer.
1.) Book your car in for heavy servicing. If you’ve been putting off getting heavy servicing for your car, especially if it’s five years or older, summer is the perfect time to have your car fettled thoroughly.
Heavy servicing usually involves changing all the fluids (engine oil, manual or automatic transmission and differential oils, brake fluid, clutch fluid, power steering fluid and coolant), checking and changing as needed all the major wear-and-tear parts (brake pads, brake disc, engine air filter and cabin air filter, fuel filter and fuel pump pre-filter/strainer), performing a proper laser-verified four-wheel alignment and checking the steering and suspension parts, plus of course the tires and changing the worn-out parts as needed, and lastly, having you’re A/C system checked and cleaned to ensure that it’s up to the task of cooling you down in the intense heat.
The summer heat is especially taxing on your car, plus with the many road trips you have planned ahead, you need to ensure that your car is in optimal working condition. Don’t skimp on parts and fluids either. Make sure you only use factory-original parts, or reputable third-party parts or aftermarket upgraded parts when you have your car serviced. K&N Air Filters, distributed by Speedlab offer excellent air filtration comparable to or better than OEM air filters, and yet are washable and reusable. Likewise, HKS Super Oils, distributed by Emperor Motorsports offers their Hybrid Sports Oil Filter which has a far higher flow filtration rate than OEM oil filters, perfect for matching with aftermarket fully synthetic oils which can go unchanged for 10,000 kilometers. As for oils, stick with the known brands such as Motul, REPSOL, Castrol and Royal Purple.
2.) Bring your car in to a body shop. Rust is a common problem in our country thanks to the constant rain and humidity. We often forget to have the underside of our cars coated with anticorrosion coatings which, although effective, need to be resprayed after 2-3 years as the bitumen-like substance solidifies and cakes off or gets scraped off from the car’s chassis over time. If you’ve neglected your car’s underside, bring it to a body shop, have them look for rust so they can repair it properly and coat your vehicle’s underside with anticorrosion chemicals.
Summer is the perfect time to do bodywork as the lack of humidity means painting and tinsmith work can be performed better and more thoroughly, and the painting work dries up faster too, protecting your vehicle’s underside from rust when the rainy season sets in.
As an added bonus, many of these anticorrosion chemicals act as insulators, repelling radiant heat from the road from being transmitted inside your car’s cabin and keeping you cooler still.
3.) Have your car fully detailed, inside, out and even the engine bay. Popular detailing shops such as the Meguiar’s chain of detailing shops, Big Bert’s Detailing and Mother’s all offer a comprehensive full vehicle detailing package for all types of cars.
It’s a good idea to have the vehicle detailed because it will give your car a fresh, clean feeling when driving a lot in summer heat, and the summer heat ensures that your seats and carpets dry-up thoroughly and quickly without leaving any nasty-smelling wet-dog scent inside your car (the proverbial amoy kulob). By removing the entire interior, you can also asses the chassis’ condition underneath the carpet and check for signs of rust or corrosion. If you eat/drink/smoke inside your car, debris as well as the scent of stale food and drinks or tobacco can also be thoroughly removed from hard to reach, unseen spots inside your car such as underneath the carpet, in-between the seats and transmission tunnel/center console and under the dashboard. If you park your car out in the open near vegetation or trees, small insects can also find their way inside your vehicle and nest. Having your interior washed thoroughly will also help drive out insects.
As for the engine bay, if it is thoroughly cleaned of grime, grease, dust and dirt, once you start using your car again, you can check if there’s a leak somewhere in your engine by checking where in the engine bay things get dirty quickly and have the leak localized, found and fixed.
4.) Check your exhaust system. Your engine is essentially an air pump; the greater the volume of air it can suck in and blow out in the shortest time possible, the more power it will generate. Restrictions in the intake side or exhaust side generate heat, which robs power, increases fuel consumption and emissions too.
In the same vein, if the intake or exhaust has leaks along the way, this will cause poor engine performance as unmetered air can enter the engine, which can cause it to run lean, or exhaust gasses start flowing slower because of leaks on the exhaust path, which affects fuel consumption and engine response as well.
It’s an easy fix to check the intake side, but the exhaust is often neglected. Check your exhaust system by raising it up on a lifter, look for signs of leaks, worn-out fasteners or holes caused by corrosion/rust and the exhaust scraping tall road obstacles and replace sections of your exhaust, if not the entire exhaust as needed. If your vehicle is more than 10 years old and has a catalytic converter, there’s a very big chance that the catalytic converter is worn out and heavily clogged. Replace it with a new one and you’ll be surprised at the performance gain you will get.
Another reason to replace leaking exhaust systems is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s a reason why the exhaust terminates at the very back: so that the exhaust emissions don’t find their way back into your vehicle’s cabin, and more importantly your body. If the exhaust system is leaking anywhere underneath your car, you stand a serious chance of inhaling carbon monoxide and poisoning yourself.
After replacing your exhaust system, it is good to wrap it in exhaust wrap, which resembles a mummy’s bandage: the exhaust wrap (price varies greatly, from a few hundred pesos to a thousand per few meters) insulates your exhaust system, keeping the heat trapped inside the exhaust which increases exhaust velocity, which in turn should give you more power and responsiveness with the same, if not better, fuel efficiency and it will also help keep your cabin cooler, particularly the transmission tunnel area in between the two front seats.
5.) Hit the road or track. After your car received some serious TLC (tender, loving care), it’s time to enjoy it, and get behind the wheel to appreciate all the key differences you’ve made (and spent!) on your car.
Too often, we all just get behind the wheel of our car and not think about its condition nor the consequences of vehicles in poor running condition, and how it can be a hazard to motorists and pedestrians alike. Worse, we’re lulled into a pipe dream thinking all is well and that we can save a few hundred to a few thousand pesos putting off vehicle maintenance. It’s going to cost you far more if you don’t have your car serviced or repaired when its needed, and especially if due to a part or component failure, you figure in an accident.
Motoring is all about freedom, but motoring is not just our right, but our responsibility as well.