Summer Driving Automotive Tips

The heat of summer can be tough on cars, especially when you have high temperatures that can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires.  It’s always a good idea to check the following components periodically during summer to avoid breakdowns and costly car problems, according to the Council on Car Care.

“It takes very little time and money to make sure your car runs properly during summer, and although breakdowns happen, they can definitely be minimized by taking a few extra preventive maintenance steps,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Battery

The life of your battery can be shortened by excessive heat and overcharging.  The internal structure of the battery can be damaged when heat causese battery fluid to evaporate.  When a charging system component  malfunctions, which is  usually the voltage regulator, it allows too high a charging rate, which can eventually destroy a battery.  To make sure you get the longest life possible out of your battery, the Car Care Council recommends having the electrical system checked to ensure it’s charging at the correct rate. If the batter in your car is not the sealed type, and needs to be topped off, check it often. You’ll need to add distilled water if necessary.  You’ll also want to keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can drain you batter of power, when it becomes a conductor.  If your terminals are corroded, it can become in insulator, which inhibits current flow.

Cooling System

Hot temperatures require your cooling system to work  harder to prevent overheating of the engine.  For your cooling system to work effectively, you should normally keep the coolant and distilled water mixture for your radiator at 50:50.  And, remember, you should never open a hot radiator cap on the reservoir to check the coolant level.  As a rule of thumb, you should change the coolant annually on most vehicles. This helps prevent corrosion and maintain a proper boiling point by keeping the inside of the system clean and corrosion free. 

A thermostat test, a pressure test, a test of your cooling fan, and a visual inspection should be done on an annual basis.  You should check hoses and drive belts for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.

Tires

Tire care is especially important in warmer weather because heat puts added stress on them.  Check your tires monthly, for any unusual wear or damage, and check your tire pressure at the same time.  You should rotate your tires every 6,000 miles.  And remember to keep your tires inflated to the proper tire pressure, checking them when they are cold.  Your owners manual will tell you proper tire pressure.  Better still, check the side of your tire as well.