There’s nothing worse than being stranded on the side of the road with car trouble on a hot day. When summertime temperatures rise, your car’s battery, tires, and radiator can be destroyed by the heat. Keep an eye on these parts of your vehicle to keep it running safely this summer and avoid inopportune breakdowns.
High temperatures can cause fluid in the battery to evaporate, eventually killing the battery. If you have the type of battery that needs to be topped off, watch it closely this summer and add distilled water if you need to.
Excessive overcharging can also shorten your battery’s life. Sometimes, components of your vehicle’s charging system malfunction – usually the voltage regulator. When this happens, the battery is being charged at too high a rate. To avoid this, have your vehicle’s charging system evaluated by a professional.
Battery power can also be drained by the dirt that builds up on top of it, and corrosion that accumulates on the terminals. Keep your battery clean to keep it working longer.
When it gets hot, your radiator has to work harder to keep your vehicle from overheating. Keeping the radiator fluid (coolant) at the proper level will help it work more effectively. It is recommended to combine the coolant with equal parts distilled water for a 50:50 mixture.
For regular maintenance, most owner’s manuals will suggest changing the radiator fluid every year. This keeps the cooling system clean, prevents corrosion, and ensures the coolant is effective. Annual tests should also be done to evaluate the radiator’s fan, pressure, and temperature. Belts and hoses should be checked for potential problems, like cracks and frayed edges.
Your tires will also need special attention when temperatures rise as the heat puts added stress on them. Assess the condition of your tires, paying special attention to bulges and cracking, and check their air pressure monthly. The proper psi (pounds per square inch) for the tires on your vehicle will be specified in your owner’s manual. Pressure within a tire will be increased in the heat, so check it in the morning while the tires are cooler. Also, have your tires rotated every six months or 6,000 miles.
The summer sun can also damage the exterior of your vehicle. You can protect its paint and finish by washing it weekly to remove dirt, salt and acids, and by waxing it twice a year to shield it from harmful UV rays.
It doesn’t take a ton of time or money to keep your car running safely through the summer. While breakdowns may happen, you can minimize them by taking these simple precautions.