Summer temperatures have been above-average for most parts of the United States for the last few years, and the trend isn’t likely to change. Whether you call it global warming or not, the fact remains that hotter temperatures affect your vehicle adversely. There are ways you can help your car stay cooler and run well regardless of the temperature, and it can be beneficial to learn what they are.
Routine maintenance is one of the best things you can do for your car, regardless of the season. The first step is to look at the battery and check for corrosion because the heat outside can raise the temperature of the battery internally, which can also corrode the terminals faster. If your battery is over three years old, it’s best to have it tested by a mechanic or take it to a free battery-testing location. If it rates fair instead of good, it might be best to replace it before the heat of the summer takes hold.
While often overlooked, a vital maintenance aspect is to check your car’s fluid levels, including the coolant and engine oil. You should also check (or have a mechanic check) the coolant hoses for leaks and wear and tear. Usually, this occurs on the hose clamps, water pump, or radiator. While most people don’t think about checking the antifreeze in the summer, the goal of the fluid is to keep the transmission cool and running smoothly; if you run out or you have a leak, your transmission is likely to heat up, which can cause issues. When checking the fluids, make sure you check power-steering, transmission, and brake fluid, as well.
If you’re planning a trip for the summer, consider having a full check-up of your vehicle and tune-up from a trusted mechanic before setting out on your journey.
It is essential that you drive with tires that are properly inflated. When they’re inflated to the right PSI, you reduce your risk of blowouts and can lengthen the tire’s lifespan. When tires are under-inflated, it generates more heat. Of course, you’re already experiencing hot temperatures, and the pavement or road is likely to be hot, which causes the tire to wear down faster.
When you check the tires, it is best to do so in the morning before driving. If you have driven somewhere but want to check them anyway, you should let the tires sit for at least three hours so that the tires are ‘cold.’ The tire pressure can change up to one pound per sq.-in. for each 10-degree temperature change. Therefore, if the temperatures rise 30 degrees throughout the day, your tire’s pressure is going to increase by three psi.
When inflating the tires to the right psi, you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations. This information can be found on the driver’s doorjamb sticker or your owner’s manual. During the summer months, you should check tire pressure once a month or more often.
Most people cannot stand to drive a car without air conditioning, especially when temperatures rise to 90 or 100 degrees. Therefore, you should have the air conditioning system checked before the heat of summer hits to ensure there is plenty of refrigerant in the system. Your mechanic can also check for leaks.
While you may not think about it, it’s best to crack your windows and leave the car vents open so that hot hair can escape, which ensures that the inside of the car isn’t explosively hot when you get inside. You should also open all the doors for a minute or so before entering the vehicle so that most of the hot air can escape.