Prepare for Summer

The central and eastern parts of South Africa experience summer rainfall and storms, so now is the time to get your vehicle and home ready for summer.


Summertime care for your vehicle

Keeping your vehicle in good condition is essential, both to protect its value and to ensure it is roadworthy and safe to be on the road as required by your insurance policy.

First of all, give your vehicle a thorough spring-clean, inside and out. Not only does this help protect the paintwork and interior surfaces, it’s also a good way to check for scratches, dents and other damage.

Like all rubber products, tyres have a limited lifespan and will degrade over time, resulting in reduced grip on the road, especially in wet weather, and loss of control of the vehicle. Inspect the tread and ensure that you’ll have good adhesion to the road surface at all times. Tyres are costly, so make sure you extend their lifespan: rotate them ahead of every new season, and ensure that they are inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications to reduce wear-and-tear and to maximise their efficiency.

Potholes are part of our day-to-day driving reality. It is best to avoid them or drive through them as slowly as you safely can but sometimes it’s impossible to avoid hitting one. In addition to causing damage to the tyre and rim, it may interfere with the steering and suspension of your vehicle and cause the tyres to be out of alignment, so if you hit a pothole hard, get your vehicle checked as soon as possible.

Test your vehicle’s braking ability – the AA recommends inspecting your brakes at least every quarter. Remember to check your headlights, brake lights and indicators to ensure they are working properly.

With the wet season approaching, it is essential to check that you’ll be able to see clearly in a downpour. Inspect your windscreen wipers and replace the blade rubbers if necessary. Check that there is sufficient water in the wiper-fluid container. Avoid cleaning heavy mud and dust from the windscreen with the wipers as this may scratch the glass. Rather check that your windscreen is clean before moving off.

Check all automotive fluids. As the outside temperature rises, the vehicle’s engine has to work harder to maintain optimal performance. New, clean oil offers enhanced heat protection and lubrication, reducing the friction between moving parts and helping prevent damage.

It’s already hot during the day, so check that your air conditioning system is working at its best.

Finally, keep a record of when your vehicle needs a service (in terms of the time since your last service or the amount of mileage) and stick to it. This will keep your vehicle working at optimal levels, ensuring that it is roadworthy and reducing wear-and-tear. Also, a vehicle with a complete service history will maintain its resale value.

Summertime care for your home

Your home is also due for a post-winter check to keep it at its market-related value and to avoid problems with water-related issues such as leaking roofs and flooding. Remember that your insurer will not provide cover for damages caused by lack of maintenance.

Check that your property has adequate drainage. Make sure that gutters, valleys and downspouts are free of winter leaves and debris, and that water run-offs and drains are clear. While up there, check that your roof has no loose or cracked tiles or roof nails (for iron roofs).

Check your boundary walls for cracks and weaknesses, and ensure that they do not impede the flow of rainwater that could flood your property.

Clear plants away from buildings and boundary walls and ensure that they aren’t growing into cracks and holes. Make sure that trees are not too close to electrical lines, walls or the roof, where falling branches could result in structural damage.

Give fencing, gates, walls and roof a new coat of paint when necessary. This adds value and will keep your home looking fresh. Plus, repainting outside surfaces will help to protect them from the elements.

If you have a fireplace, chances are that you’ve been using it throughout winter. While a roaring log fire is a great way to stay warm during winter (especially with load shedding), soot and ash may collect on the inside of the chimney in the form of creosote, which is highly flammable. If it catches alight, it may result in permanent damage to the chimney and possibly set fire to the building. Clogged-up chimneys are also less effective at releasing noxious gases given off by a burning log fire, allowing for possible carbon monoxide build-up inside the room. Another problem is when birds make nests in chimneys – the dry twigs and feathers are a potential fire risk. Now that the colder months are behind us, it’s a good time to give any chimneys a professional spring-clean.

It might seem daunting but having a checklist and tackling one task at a time will ensure a safer, happier spring and summer.