Summer serves as a time to enjoy life. Parents and children use this break to take a much-needed vacation, visit the beach for a day, or explore new places with family and friends. However, people might find their fun ends because their vehicle broke down as a result of the heat.
Roadside assistance calls increase during the summer months. While modern cars come equipped to handle extreme temperature changes, extended exposure to heat or freezing temperatures can lead to problems. During a hot, dry summer, the vehicle may falter. Maintenance and upkeep help to reduce the risk of this happening but the threat still exists.
Why do cars experience problems during the summer months? How can a person prevent these issues? The following guide helps to answer these questions and more.
1. Air Conditioning
Most vehicles today come equipped with air conditioning, and drivers greatly appreciate this feature when the thermostat climbs. However, the system must be regularly maintained or it may not be able to keep up when it is scorching outside.
A person might think they need tinted windows to supplement the air conditioner. While these windows are of great benefit when it comes to keeping the interior cool, the air conditioner needs to be operational as well. This system requires regular maintenance to operate correctly, as it may become clogged with us. This interferes with the performance of the air conditioner while leaving an unpleasant smell in the vehicle’s cabin.
Take the vehicle in for an AC service in the spring to ensure it is ready for use when summer arrives. Experts recommend having this service carried out every two or four years or 20,000 miles, depending on how you drive the car. However, it is best to speak to the mechanic completing the service to learn their recommendation. They have examined the system and have a better understanding of its condition and maintenance needs.
2. Cooling System
Severe weather takes its toll on a car cooling system, which is concerning. The cooling system functions to ensure the engine operates at the proper temperature. When temperatures rise outside, the cooling system must work harder to keep the engine at the right temperature.
Coolant or antifreeze circulates through the cooling system to ensure all engine components remain cool. When the outdoor temperature rises, the coolant or antifreeze temperature also increases. This may lead to the engine components overheating and failing. When the driver operates the vehicle at low speeds, less air moves through the fan located at the front of the vehicle. This fan functions to cool the radiator and the lack of circulating air could bring about cooling system issues.
Drivers must check their coolant level at the start of summer. Furthermore, they should monitor this level throughout the hot season. Many drivers choose to take this a step further and invest in a coolant tester. This device provides information on the current protection level of this fluid by letting the driver know the concentration of coolant in the mix.
People often assume their vehicle battery will fail during the winter months when it is exposed to freezing temperatures. Hot weather can damage the battery as well because it interferes with chemical processes inside the battery. When this happens, the battery may fail to hold a charge or produce the necessary power to operate the car. When the driver uses the air conditioner, fans, and other electronic components, they place more stress on the battery. Thankfully, a driver can test the battery and detect problems before the car leaves them stranded. A voltage meter checks the battery’s power output, and any person can conduct this test.
If you don’t feel comfortable checking the power output, have a mechanic do it. The reading from the meter provides information on the battery’s health and lets the driver know if the battery requires charging or replacement. Drivers should also carry jumper cables or a battery booster pack on trips for an added level of protection. Nobody wants to find they are stranded at night on a deserted road because their battery went out. Test the battery to prevent this from happening.
Hot weather wreaks havoc on car tires. When the tires are exposed to heat, the air within them expands. This leads to over-inflation. If the temperature is high enough, bulges may appear in the tire wall. Countless drivers find themselves stranded every year thanks to a tire problem. Quite often, the breakdown occurs during the summer months.
To prevent this issue, ensure the tires are at the right pressure. Experts recommend checking the tire pressure every two weeks. However, drivers need to check the pressure more often if they put a lot of miles on their car. Additionally, drivers should always check the tire pressure before embarking on a long trip. Hot weather could lead to the pressure increasing, and over-inflated tires may blow out. Avoid this scary situation by checking the tire pressure routinely.
5. Engine Oil
Oil circulates through a vehicle’s engine to lubricate the many moving parts that help the vehicle run. Cars run hotter in the summer, and this leads to the oil in the engine thinning slightly. As a result, some parts might not get the necessary level of protection. Without this protection, the parts are exposed to increased friction, and this friction may damage one or more components in the engine. In a worst-case scenario, the entire could fail completely and need replacement.
Always have the oil changed at the beginning of the summer. Ask the mechanic to use a high-quality oil designed for high temperatures. Change the oil filter at the same time and make certain the appropriate amount of oil is used. This ensures the engine remains protected at all times.
It’s easy to overlook regular car maintenance when you are having fun with family and friends. However, properly caring for the car helps prevent the issues mentioned above. This maintenance and upkeep help to keep the cost of vehicle ownership low and ensures you are ready to go wherever your adventures take you.