By Madeline Klein on July 13, 2017.
Summer is meant to be full of pool parties, road trips and late night happy hours, which means there's no time to be broken down on the side of the road. With the recent temperatures hitting record highs, we've got some tips to help your vehicle avoid some of the top issues caused by summer heat.
Get (and keep) your air conditioning in tip-top shape
AC is the MVP for those hot summer days, which means we've got to treat it as such. There are two main areas of focus here: Making sure your AC parts are all functioning properly and making sure you’re using your AC as efficiently as possible.
Parts: When you start thinking about all of the tubes, hoses, compressors, condensers, filters, belts and other air conditioning parts that make up this magical summer luxury, it's easy to see there's a lot that could go wrong. If you're not handy under the hood and you think your AC could use a little tune up, you may want to have a professional give your system a look over.
Most common signs of an issue are leaks, hot air blowing and intermittent to no air blowing at all. If you're unit is leaking water, there is a chance it's just a dirty cabin air filter which is a pretty simple DIY replacement. If it's leaking some other liquid, or the problem goes beyond an air filter, it's best to take it into the shop.
Efficient Usage: Using your AC efficiently is not only going to save you in gas, it's also going to help preserve your system. Lifehacker says the fastest way to cool down your car is to drive with the windows down while blasting cold air in the foot wells (since hot air naturally rises). While your windows are down, use the fresh air setting for the AC. Once you feel your car is cool enough to close the windows, switch the setting to recirculate and aim the fans wherever you prefer.
Avoid an overheated engine
An overheated engine is one of the most common causes of a summer breakdown. Not only should you make sure your coolant is full (and made up of the right mix of antifreeze and water), you should also make sure it's clean. Car manufacturers typically recommend a radiator flush to replace old coolant with new every 24 months, or every 40,000-60,000 miles.
Adapt your oil changes and filter replacements
Extreme temperatures (hot or cold) demand more from your vehicle's oil. Make sure you're on top of your oil changes, especially if you're increasing the mileage for road trips, towing a camper or hauling a boat to the lake. Summer's dustier conditions can also cause some issues with your filters, which may call for more frequent replacements.
Adjust your tire pressure
Check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure the hot air isn't expanding your tires past their maximum, which can lead to blowouts. You can typically find your vehicles max pressure on a sticker inside the door jam or in your owner's manual.
Check your windshield wipers and fluid
It's always a good idea to check your windshield wipers for cracks and tears, but if you've ever driven on a highway in the middle of summer, you know those bugs can be quite the formidable opponent for your windshield. Make sure you've got fresh fluid and blades to keep your windshield clear of dust and insects.
If you happen to be hitting the road for a trip this summer, don't forget to check out our summer road trip essentials packing list, complete with items to prepare you for potential summer breakdowns!