Summer Sun Takes Its Toll: Five Car Components That Can’t Take the Heat
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Now that we’re well into the heat of summer, vacations and road trips beckon. But before you load up the family vehicle, make sure you give your car a checkup so that you’ll be safe on the road. Topping up your coolant, changing the oil, and making sure the tires are properly inflated is a great start. But you may not know the full extent of the damage summertime heat can do. Today, we’ll cover five components of your automobile that can fall victim to high temperatures in a big way.
- Your Gas: Remember science class? Gas is a fluid, and if it gets too hot it can and does evaporate, even in your tank – this may not be a safety concern, but it’s certainly a financial one. With gas prices soaring you certainly don’t want to lose any of your gas money to the atmosphere. Make an effort this summer to always park in the shade – your wallet (and your passengers) will thank you.
- Your Battery: Just like the gas in your tank, the acid inside your battery goes poof little by little in the sweltering heat of summer. According to the Car Care Council, heat is one of the number one causes of shortened battery life. Park in the shade to preserve your battery, and reduce your risk being stranded. The Car Care Council suggests if your battery is more than two years old, have it tested. If it’s three years or older, your best bet is probably just to replace it. And while we’re on the subject – don’t embark on that family road trip without a set of jumper cables or better yet spend a little extra and buy a self contained battery jump box so you don’t have to depend on a Good Samaritan to help jump your dead battery.
- Your Windshield Wipers: If you live in high temperature states such as Arizona or Nevada, make sure your wipers are used regularly. Otherwise, if it has been awhile since you used your wipers and, one hot summer day, you decide to press the windshield washer button, your washers may spray but your wipers could be “stuck” to the glass. Yes, your wipers may eventually pull loose but they will likely skitter and scrub across your windshield, smearing rather than cleaning. Since your windshield wipers endure the sun all the time, if they’re not used regularly, the heat will take its toll.
- Your Tires: Tires are built to withstand higher temperatures generated by friction as a rule, so you probably won’t wake up one day to find your tires melted to the pavement, but there is a serious risk on hot days. Improperly inflated tires carry a higher risk of catastrophic tire failure when the temperatures soar. A flat tire is one thing, but a catastrophic failure or blowout can cause an accident and may take lives. Check your tire pressure once a month year round – and particularly in the summer – to alleviate this risk.
- Your Transmission: Many of us take a little accessory on the roads with us in the summer – a trailer or boat towed behind our car. If you plan on pulling your favorite toy around this summer, make sure your transmission can handle the strain. If your try to pull too much, the transmission heats up from overwork, the fluid is pushed through the system faster, friction and heat buildup, and bam. The transmission is history. The best solution for this issue is a heavy-duty vehicle such as a truck with a towing package, but if you must use the family car, have an auxiliary transmission oil cooler installed.
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