The next time you step outside on a scorcher of a summer day and notice how hot it is, just think about how hot your car must be. Even though cars are engineered to run on the warmest of summer days, excess heat puts additional strain on different parts of your vehicle, causing unwanted problems.
How the Summer Heat Affects Your Car
Hotter summer temperatures cause your vehicle to work harder and increase the odds of a breakdown. Luckily, preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping you on the road. Keep your fluids topped off, monitor your tire pressure, and keep your battery clean, and you should make it through the summer unscathed.
Lowers the Efficiency of Fluids
Your car's oil, coolant, and transmission fluid not only lubricate the internal components of your car but also double as coolants. Engine oil thins out in higher temperatures, causing it to provide less protection and making your engine generate more heat. Try getting an oil change before summer with a higher viscosity oil to reduce this thinning. Be sure to know what to do if your vehicle overheats.
Coolant is another component that prevents engine overheating. Change your coolant at the intervals listed in your driver's manual, usually every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. If it gets low or too old, it can cause damage to the engine and components like the radiator or hoses. You'll likely know if you have a coolant issue if your temperature gauge gets too high. Always keep an eye on your fluid levels in the summer.
Increases Tire Pressure
Every 10°F the temperature rises, the air pressure in your tires goes up by about one PSI. If your tires go even a few PSI over the recommended levels, they can start to wear unevenly or even cause an unexpected blowout.
Monitor your tire pressure on those very hot days using a tire gauge. Most cars have an internal TMPS sensor that will tell you when your pressure is too low, but not when it's too high, so you'll have to do it yourself. Let some extra air out if they do end up over the recommended levels.
Degrades the Battery
When the temperature rises, your battery fluid can actually start to evaporate. If this goes on for a period of time, battery damage occurs, and it will hold less of a charge. The evaporating fluid can also cause acid leaks that will corrode the terminals on the battery. When too much corrosion builds up, the battery will have a harder time starting the car, so always brush away any corrosion you see forming.
If you drive an electric vehicle, you can see a decrease in the distance of a single chargeby up to 33% because of extreme heat. Don't run out of juice on a trip you normally can make during cooler temperatures.
Stay Cool During the Summer Heat
When you keep up with all of the extra maintenance during the hottest parts of the summer, not only will avoid higher odds of a breakdown, but you'll stay cooler, too. Keeping track of your fluid levels is one of the most important things you can do, but don't forget about your tires and battery as well.
Another way to stay safe in the summer is by signing up for drivers ed with DriversEd.com. Not only will you learn how to avoid any perils of summer driving, but you'll learn many safe driving techniques from a certified instructor.