As much as we would rather spend our hot spring and summer days swimming or inside in the air conditioning, most of us have many fun things to do or take care of during the hottest months of the year. Scorching temperatures are often responsible for car issues, such as A/C systems on the fritz, steering wheels that feel like they just came out of the oven, or batteries that decide it’s time to check out.
While you can’t change the weather, you can avoid a lot of headaches by heeding the following warm weather vehicle maintenance tips:
Avoid Battery Calamities
While cold weather can cause problems for your vehicle’s battery, hot weather can be equally as brutal. Battery fluid can evaporate during high temperatures, leading to a malfunctioning charging system which can destroy your battery. Before you head out on a long road trip, it’s not a bad idea to have your battery inspected to avoid delays associated with the hassles of dealing with a dead battery.
Keep Your Air Conditioning Chilled Out
If you have service performed on your A/C but it still doesn’t seem cold enough, consider a couple things to get the most out of your system. In a dry climate with low humidity, use the “fresh air” or “fan” setting to allow your A/C system to cool most efficiently. Alternatively, if you live in a climate where humidity is rampant, use your A/C’s “recirculate” setting. This eliminates using the high-moisture outside air and makes it easier for your system to cool the interior of your car down.
Be Vigilant of Your Coolant Levels
When it’s extra warm out, your cooling system works overtime to keep your engine from overheating. This requires a 50:50 mixture of coolant and distilled water. Make sure to never open hot radiator cap as to avoid hot pressurized coolant from spraying out. While this should typically be done once a year, the owner’s manual for your car should provide you with the recommendations of how often it should be done.
Avoid Turning Your Car into an Oven
Parking in the sun can quickly turn your car into an unbearable sauna. This can cause a burning hot steering wheel, a faded interior, and a lot of misery and sweating. Using a sun shade in your windshield blocks direct rays from invading your interior. After being parked in the sun, open your doors for a couple minutes to let the heat out as the glass windows turn your car into a mini greenhouse. Also, leave your windows cracked a tiny bit, or get your windows tinted, to keep temperatures down in your car.
Keep Up on Tire Pressure
High temperatures cause more stress on your tires. Underinflated tires can fail because of more friction due to heat, while overinflated tires can result in uneven tread wear since air expands with heat, possibly leading to a blowout. Read up on your tire’s recommended pressure in your owner’s manual, and use a tire gauge to stay on top of the proper pressure for your tires.
While it may seem like a lot of little things to remember, staying attentive to your car’s needs will save you time and money in the long run. Paying attention to how your car feels, having it serviced regularly, and keeping an eye on your dashboard gauges will alert you to any potential problems that are lurking. A little mindfulness as well as regular visits to a reputable and trustworthy auto repair shop will help keep you safely and comfortably on the road this spring/summer.