15 Essential Summer Car Maintenance Tips For Your Volkswagen

Between the summer heat and wear and tear throughout the rest of the year, establishing a summer maintenance schedule should be a top priority for any car owner. Creating a basic maintenance plan will extend the length of your Volkswagen for years to come – and being active about detailing your car will keep the interior looking as fantastic as the day you drove it off the lot. In effort to help your car running and looking like new, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to outline the 15 essential summer car care tips.

Your Guide to Keeping Your Volkswagen in a Driving Condition this Summer

dirty air filter

They say a little dirt can act as part of the filter and be beneficial. This is not ‘a little’, though.. photo by Matt Molina, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 License

Replace The Air Filter

1) Harsh winters can clog up your car’s air filter with salt and all kinds of debris, and having a clogged air filter can really start to reduce your fuel efficiency. The filter can get even filthier depending on the roads you drive on – if you’re frequently driving on gravel or dirt then you may want to change your air filter more frequently than the recommended 19,000 kilometers or so.  In fact, Pep Boys suggests that simply changing your dirty air filter can improve gas mileage by up to 10%. There is no real rule about changing your air filter, though. The best thing to do is take a look at it and see how bad it is for yourself. However, if you’re planning a summer road trip, then it might be best to just go ahead and change it for the year.

Check Coolant Levels

2) By not staying on top of your coolant levels, you can really leave yourself (and wallet) open to taking a big hit when your car overheats. If the engine gets too hot then there’s a chance that the engine can warp the essentials parts that your car relies on to run. To prevent overheating, check that your coolant levels are at the optimal level (but only do it when your engine is cold!). In the summer, it’s recommended to make sure that your antifreeze is mixed 1:1 with water, and while you’re in the area…We also recommend taking a look at your coolant hoses to make sure there aren’t any cracks or loose connections that could lead to a leak or bigger problems down the road.

Check The Belts

3) Coolant isn’t the only important aspect of keeping your car cool throughout the winter. Your car’s belts are responsible for running the car’s internal fan, so if they’re showing any damage it’s absolutely vital you fix it before your car overheats. Trust us, it’s a lot better to get your belts fixed than it is to have to repair the damage caused by overheating.

bald tire

When your tires are this bald then you’re long overdue for a new set photograph by The Tire Zoo, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 License

Check The Tread and Rotate Tires

4) Cold conditions can cause your tire pressure to drop significantly while hot temperatures can actually cause the opposite. As a result, when the seasons shift it’s wise inspect your tire pressure levels and confirm they are where they need to be. Checking the pressure in your tires is also a great time to make sure that each tire does not show any signs of uneven wearing, that there are no cuts or nicks in the sidewalls, and that your tires have plenty of tread left them.

It’s generally recommended that your tires should be rotated every 8,000 kilometers or so. Additionally, if it has been over 30,000 kilometers (or if your car is pulling slightly to one direction) then now is a good time to have your tires aligned.

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Check Your Brakes

5) Your brakes are easily the single most important safety feature of your vehicle, which means that it’s extremely important to stay diligently aware of their condition. As soon as you notice any sort of problem with your brakes, it is highly recommended you have them inspected and repaired as soon as possible. If the problem is ignored for even just a little too long then the cost of repair could significantly increase.

Check The Cars Suspension

6) Having poor suspension can really take the fun out of driving your Volkswagen, and after even just a year of driving over the myriad of potholes that litter Surrey, your car can take a serious toll. Your Volkswagen’s shocks and struts should be regularly replaced to ensure that your Golf or Jetta drive the way they were meant to.

Change The Oil

7) Seriously. We can’t stress this one enough. Not checking or maintaining your oil levels can lead to huge reductions in your car’s lifespan. It’s generally recommended to change your oil every 5,000 kilometers or so, but if you frequently make very short trips, or even long trips with a lot of extra weight in the car then it would be wise to plan for an oil change more frequently.

Check and Clean Your Battery

8) Truth be told, your battery could fail any time of the year, and without professional equipment then it’s not easy to determine how strong or weak your battery is. That said, a clean battery is a happy battery. Be sure to clear away all corrosion from battery posts and the cable connections. If you can easily remove your battery, do so, and clean all surfaces. When you are ready to put it back in be sure that you’ve re-tightened the connections as best as you can.

rusty vw

Your VW could look like this too! Just don’t take care of it!

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Clean and Wax Your Car

9) There are few things that can protect your Volkswagen better than cleaning and detailing your car. Simply washing and waxing your car can not only improve aesthetic appeal, but keeping your ride shiny and well waxed can protect the car’s top coat from dirt and dust, as well as protect it from the sun. In fact, not taking care of your car’s paint can lead to the paint fading and peeling. When the paint peels away, it greatly increases the chances of rust developing. Beyond that, corrosives from nature (like bird poop or tree sap) become even stronger under the hot summer sun. So clean, and wax, your car. It’ll thank you in the future.

Check The Paint And Windshield  

10) As mentioned, there really isn’t a better time for washing your car than during the summer, but don’t get too carried away! Use this chance to review your car’s paint job. Staying on top of cracks and chips in the paint gives you the chance to prevent rust before it occurs. Similarly, while you’re cleaning the exterior of your car, take a look at the windshield (and sunroof) for chips or crack. It only takes one good rock, heavy frost, or hard jolt to shatter the glass entirely.

Check Your Lights  

11) Regularly checking your lights can be one of the easiest ways in the world to prevent being pulled over, although it’ll probably take a friend to get the job done the right way. Have them either sit in your car and work the lights as needed or have them walk around and check the lights as you turn them on/off. In the front, be sure to check both headlights, your fog lights, and turn signals. From the back, check your turn signals, brake lights, and running lights.

headlights

Clean, clear, and ready to light your way. photograph by Frank. G. Leuderalbert, distributed under a CC-BY 2.5 License

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Clean The Headlights  

12) Once you’ve established that your lights all work, it’s a good idea to clear up any cracking or glazing that may have developed throughout the year. There are a ton of different products on the market designed to help restore the clarity of your lights, but you may not have to invest in any of them if you’ve got some baking soda at home. Simply add pour some baking soda onto a damp rag and make a bit of paste on the rag. Then start rubbing directly on the headlight. Wipe the lights with your baking soda mixture for at least 3-5 minutes and then clear it off with another clean rag. Believe it or not, that’s all it takes to bring your headlights back to their fully lit glory!

spark plugs

If your spark plugs don’t look like this, you’re gonna have a problem

Check Your Spark Plugs

13) Spark plugs are one of the most crucial components of an engine, and probably the easiest to overlook. A quick inspection of your spark plugs can be all that you need to prevent an inconvenient vehicle failure.

Check Your Car’s AC

14) There is nothing worse than getting caught in traffic on a hot summer day and realizing that your AC has gone bad. However, through regular maintenance you can be sure that your air conditioning won’t give out on you at the worst possible time. Normally a malfunctioning AC is caused by low levels of refrigerant, which could be caused by a leak in the system, so if your AC is on full blast and you’re still not feeling a chill, then it is time to take it to a professional so that they can check your Freon levels.

certified vw mechanic

a good mechanic can be your cars best friend!

Don’t Skip Regularly Scheduled Maintenance!

15) We’ve saved the most important tip for last. Do not skip your regularly scheduled maintenance! While many of the actions on this list can be made by you – the savvy Volkswagen owner that you are – sometimes it’s best to let the professionals take over and keep your car running at its peak performance. If you’re unsure of when your regularly scheduled maintenance is, check your owner’s manual or give us a call at (604) 536-7212. We would be happy to make a service appointment with you so that your car can be looked at by our Volkswagen Certified Technicians for maintenance that will ultimately affect the safety and dependability of your vehicle.

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