High temperatures can be pretty miserable – they can also be difficult on your car. Engines produce a massive amount of heat; paired with extreme outdoor temperatures, hot summer days can lead to overheating and potentially getting stranded along the roadside.
Fortunately, there are a few tips you can follow to make sure your vehicle stays safe and reliable all season long:
It’s fairly well-known that batteries are affected by cold winter weather, but did you know the summer heat can be even worse on your battery? When it comes to batteries, heat and vibration are the two leading causes of breakdowns and failure. Although there’s not much you can do to keep your battery cool, you can make sure that the battery is well secured to minimize vibration.
Battery fluid also evaporates faster in high temperatures, which can lead to corrosion on the terminals or connections. Clean off any corrosion as needed. While you’re doing that, it’s also a good idea to check that the cable clamps are tight enough to prevent them from moving around.
Is your battery more than 3 years old? If so, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to find out how much longer it will last. Typically, most car batteries last between 3 – 5 years.
The cooling system in your vehicle is responsible for keeping your car from overheating. To make sure your cooling system is operating as efficiently as possible, it should be flushed periodically according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. To keep it working its best between flushes, check the coolant level occasionally. If it’s too low, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and coolant.
Make sure to check which type of coolant your car needs – there are several different types on the market. Use caution when removing the radiator cap, and never remove it when the engine is hot! The pressurized coolant or steam from it can cause severe burns.
While you’re topping off your coolant, it’s also a good idea to inspect the neighboring rubber components for signs of deterioration. Any hoses or drive belts that have cracks, soft spots, or other types of wear should be replaced.
Driving on underinflated tires is never a good idea, but hot road temperatures can make them even more likely to have a blowout. Tires typically lose about a pound of air pressure per month, so they should be checked monthly, year-round. Don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare, too!
You’ll get the most accurate reading when the tires are cold. If your tires need more air, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s inflation pressure recommendations; these can be found in the owner’s manual or on the tire information label on the door jam. Don’t rely on the tire pressure listed on the tires themselves – they may not be the correct pressure for your specific vehicle.
Most of the fluids in your car work the same way: they lubricate the moving parts and they act as a coolant, pulling heat away from the components. When the fluids are low, they aren’t able to keep things cool as well – and decreased lubrication can lead to friction, which generates more heat and increases the possibility of overheating.
All fluids should be checked periodically, including the engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. If any of them are low, top them off using the fluid specified in your owner’s manual.
Air conditioning definitely makes driving in high temperatures more comfortable, but it also increases your safety by reducing fatigue and preventing heatstroke. If your AC isn’t working as well as it used to, it could be because the refrigerant is low or there could be a leak in the system. Have your AC checked out by a certified technician to determine the cause of the problem. If you have cabin air filters, these should also be inspected and replaced as needed.
Be Prepared for Breakdowns
Routine maintenance can go a long way in keeping your car on the road, but breakdowns can still happen when you least expect them. For this reason, it’s always best to be prepared! All drivers should have an emergency kit in their vehicle, with the following items:
- Non-perishable food items
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- Road flares or an emergency beacon
- Duct tape
- Basic hand tools (socket set, screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench)
- A first aid kit
The summer heat may be tough on our cars, but with the right maintenance, you can prevent problems and enjoy a happy season of driving!
At Cline Collision Center, we want you to stay safe all summer long! But if you do run into trouble (or trouble runs into you!) bring your car to us. We use OEM parts and factory repair methods to get your vehicle back to its perfect pre-accident condition. Call 707-591-9909 or contact us online!