Cities all over the country are setting temperature records during the present heat wave. The extreme heat does not just affect you; it affects the engine and cooling system of your car. This is especially true if you take your car on long trips. If your car overheats, it can cause serious damage to the engine. Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent this.
Open the windows in your car when you first get in it before you put the air conditioning on. This will get some of the hot air out and ease the strain on your car’s engine and air conditioner. Check the level of fluid in the overflow or reservoir tank of the radiator and fill if needed. You should use a 50/50 mixture of water to coolant. Look for leaks around the radiator, water pump, etc. and replace any hoses that show signs of cracks, fraying or rot. You should also rinse the condenser for the air conditioner with a gentle spray of water to remove insects and dirt. This will help it function better. The condenser is the part of the cooling system that expels the hot air from the car. It is located in front of the radiator.
Make sure you do not overload your car or tow too much. If you do, it will strain your engine and cooling system. Also, brake calipers and brake pads stick more in extreme heat. If they stay stuck they will put a drag on the wheels, slow the car and the engine will have to work harder. This can lead to the car overheating or to engine problems. If your car pulls badly to one side, it is a sign that it may have a stuck caliper or pad.
If you have a four wheel drive or rear wheel drive vehicle, you should shift it to neutral or park if you are stuck in traffic. If you slowly increase the engine speed to 2000 rpms and hold it there for 60 seconds, it will cause the water pump and radiator fan to turn faster. This will dissipate the heat, cool the car and keep it from overheating.
If the temperature gauge on your car does indicate the engine is hot or the temperature light comes on, turn off the air conditioning immediately and pull over as soon as you safely can. Turning off the air conditioning will lessen the strain on the engine. Once you have pulled over, turn off the engine and open the hood to dissipate the heat. Do not open the radiator cap while the engine is hot. If you do, you may get burned from the steam from the radiator. You should not drive the car even after it has cooled down. It should be towed to a shop to be checked out.
If the extreme heat gets the best of your car causing it to overheat and damaging the engine, it will be a very expensive repair. If you decide the car is not worth fixing, you can donate your car to charity. The charity will take it as is and will pick it up for free. When you donate your car, you will get a really nice tax deduction and help a good cause.