Getting behind the wheel in the hot summer months is a long-standing tradition. But before you load up the car, make sure you give it a checkup, so you can be safe in the high heat.
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 a heat wave can do. Here are five components of your automobile that can fall victim to high temps in a big way.
Remember science class? Gas is a fluid, and, if it gets too hot, it can and does evaporate – even in your tank. While this may not be a safety concern, 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 to park in the shade – your wallet (and your passengers) will thank you.
Just like the gas in your tank, the acid inside your battery goes “poof” little by little in the sweltering heat. According to the Popular Mechanics, heat is one of the number one causes of shortened battery life. Park in the shade to preserve your battery, and reduce your risk of being stranded. The Car Care Council suggests having your battery tested, if it’s more than two years old. 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 an extended 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.
If you live in high temperature states such as Arizona or Nevada, or in any other state experiencing an extended heat wave, protecting your car from the heat includes using your wipers regularly. Otherwise, on a hot day, if 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. Your windshield wipers endure the sun all the time, and, if they’re not used regularly, the heat can take its toll on them.
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 to tires 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.
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 in the heat, make sure your transmission can handle the strain. If you 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, consider having an auxiliary transmission oil cooler installed.