On a brighter note

Springtime Motoring: tips from IAM RoadSmart
 
It's time to finally wave goodbye to a rough winter and say hello to the spring and summer months ahead. We're welcoming the brighter mornings but, before we leap into the new season, it's important to get our cars and bikes prepped and ready for this time of year.
This week's tips have been written by Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, to give advice on getting your car and bike ready for the warmer weather.
  • Reduce the fuel consumption: clear out those coats, boots, scarves and bags that took up permanent residence during the winter months. This extra baggage doesn't just take up space; the weight will also waste fuel.
  • Remove the salt: modern cars are much less prone to rust than before, but corrosion-causing salt from gritted roads can build up under the wheel arches and the suspension. Use a hose pipe to flush the wheel arches clean; if you have a pressure washer, even better. If not, try washing the arches after driving on wet roads – the mud and grit will have softened. The neighbours might give you a funny look, but it'll reduce the risk of expensive repairs.
  • Limit the glare: the demister can put a film of dirt from traffic fumes and chemicals from the dashboard plastics on the inside of the windscreen which can spread bright sunshine into a blinding glare. It's important that you keep the screen clean with water and detergent. Use a microfibre cloth to dry the entire windscreen and you'll notice that crystal-clear vision will be restored. Don't forget the other windows!
  • Protect against pollen: the majority of cars have pollen filters, but have you ever changed them? Changing your filters every so often will help to remain their efficiency. It's always wise to look in your handbook to find out how to get to the filter and if it looks bad, change it before the pollen levels increase. You'll also find some good after-market filters online; these often have a charcoal layer to filter out pollutants as well as pollen.
  • Control the temperature: air conditioning is a must-have as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak. If it gets too low, the air-con will blow warm instead of cold. Test it by turning the heater control to minimum, the heater fan to maximum and make sure the air-con is turned on. If you don't feel an icy blast after a couple of minutes, the system may need "re-gassing"; a simple job which most garages have the equipment to do.
Richard said: "Remember, if your aircon is losing gas the refrigerant is toxic to the atmosphere, so a quick repair is required before topping up. Starting the fine weather with a car or bike that has been properly fettled is a lovely feeling. The better weather is a great excuse to take on the little jobs that you have been putting off, and a nice clean motor will set you up nicely for refreshing those driving skills."

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