Vehicle maintenance in the summer heat – Pt 2

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overheated car

A little preventative maintenance can help you avoid being stuck with an overheated car this hot summer. Image: rmkoske/Flickr/CC BY-SA

With record summer heat across most of the nation, it is wise to consider the kinds of damage extreme temperatures can do to your vehicle. We have already suggested some maintenance tips to keep your battery working properly through the summer. We will now look at some other parts of your vehicle that may be susceptible to damage from summer heat, and suggest some ways of minimizing the damage.

Avoid summer heat

The most basic advice is the same as for people and animals. Avoid the extreme sunlight as much as possible. Park in the shade when you can. If you have a garage or carport at home, please use it.

Always have water

It is a good idea to carry several gallons of water in your trunk at all times, especially in summer weather. It may help you limp to a mechanic if you should begin overheating. Or, if you get stranded it can keep you dehydrated until help arrives.

Keep radiator topped off

If your car does not have a closed cooling system. make sure your radiator is topped off with coolant. Don’t just use water unless that is the only think available in an emergency situation.

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Check your cooling system

It might be wise at the start of a hot season such as this one to have your mechanic look at your cooling system to be sure it is up to snuff. Simple maintenance now will save you big bucks later, should the system fail and need to be replaced.

Inspect your tires

Tires that are over-worn can be a disaster waiting to happen, albeit a completely avoidable one. If your tread is low or your tires are cracked, the hot asphalt could precipitate a blow out. If that happens at cruising speed, a serious accident could result, leading to injuries or, at the very least, costly damage.

Watch your temperature light

The temperature light on your dashboard is a warning that your engine is getting dangerously hot. If this happens when you are on the road, torn off the air conditioner immediately and open the windows. If the light persists, turn on your heater and crank it all the way up. This may sound like the exact opposite of what you should do, but it will actually cool your engine by pushing out some of the heat trapped in the cooling system.

If the light is still persistent, you may have to pull over and call for assistance. If the light does go out after letting the vehicle sits for a while, you may be able to drive it. But go straight to a mechanic. Don’t take any chances.


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