Summer is synonymous with long hot days, no school, family vacations, and fun. But what’s not fun is having car issues on a sweltering day. Whether you’re planning a road trip or prepping for all those trips to the pool, here’s what you need to know about driving in the heat.
Keep Your Car Well Maintained
Maintaining your car is one of the most important things you can do to keep you and your passengers safe.
First, check your tires' air pressure. Air expands in heat, which could cause an excess of pressure and stress out your tires. But, if your tire pressure is too low, hot outside temperature increases the risk of a blowout.
The best time of the day to check the pressure is in the morning. Before you drive, make sure all four tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
Summer heat can also cause your car's hoses and belts to crack and blister. You'll want to check these from time to time to avoid annoying breakdowns. The same thing applies to your battery as well; getting it checked can save you hassle and money later on.
Finally, you’ll need to check your vehicle's fluid levels. Make sure you have enough engine oil, transmission fluid, wiper fluid, brake fluid, and engine coolant for your vehicle to run well.
Upgrade Your AC
There’s nothing quite like driving in your car with a broken AC on a summer afternoon, sweating like you’re sitting in a sauna. Maintaining a cool interior in your vehicle keeps you and your passengers safe, reduces stress on the body, plus just feels a whole lot better than driving in an oven.
Before summer is in full swing, make sure your car’s air conditioning is running properly. If it isn’t, you might first try checking the cabin air filter — having a clean one helps the air circulate throughout the interior better. If the problem isn’t the filter, it might be worthwhile to get your system fixed or upgraded, before any intense heat makes driving unbearable.
Summer Safety Tips
Maybe you’ve gotten your car all fixed up and ready to go in the summer heat. There are a few other things you’ll need to keep in mind to practice safe and responsible driving in the summertime.
Keep pets and children safe. It’s crucial that you never leave them in a car for any length of time in the heat. Even temperatures that seem milder, like in the 70s, can quickly heat up the interior of a car to a dangerous degree, especially on sunny days. Cracking windows isn't usually enough to keep the car cool either, so always bring your little ones or your pet pals with you when you leave the car.
Shield yourself from the sun. If you’re concerned about intense sunlight beaming into your vehicle, consider installing window shades. They’re helpful for protecting young children from the sunlight and can keep them cooler while the car is running.
Watch for obstacles on the road. Be on the lookout for random or sudden buckles in the pavement while driving. Extremely hot temperatures can sometimes cause roads to buckle up due to thermal expansion in the concrete and asphalt, causing slow-downs in traffic or dangerous driving conditions.
Beware of overheating. If your car is overheating, pull over immediately so the engine can cool off, before any extensive damage is done. Turning on your car’s heater, while seemingly counterintuitive, can help the engine cool off faster, since it takes hot air away from the engine to blow it into the car’s interior.
Summer has arrived! Brushing up on some safety tips and even taking a state-certified defensive driving class can prepare you to beat the heat and stay safe on the road. You'll learn important roadway safety tips and could even qualify for a discount on your insurance!