Prepare Your Car for Summer Driving
Are you heading out for a summer driving vacation? Extreme heat can take a toll on your car. Give your car a hot weather check-up before hitting the road for vacation.
Check Your Fluids
Check the white coolant-recovery tank often to ensure proper fluid level. Marks on the reservoir indicate the proper level for when the engine is cold or hot. If the tank is low after repeated fillings, suspect a leak. Also check for white, light green, blue, or pink coolant tracks in the engine bay, which is residue left from leaking coolant.
Fluids to check:
- Motor oil
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power-steering fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
Inspect Belts and Hoses
Overheating can occur anytime but usually, it happens in the summer. Under the hood, temperatures are much higher, and heat can trigger or accelerate deterioration of rubber compounds causing cracking, blistering, and other damage to your belts and hoses, and they may need to be replaced.
When the engine is cool, squeeze the hoses with your thumb and forefinger near the clamps, where ECD most often occurs. Feel for soft or mushy spots. A good hose will have a firm yet pliant feel.
When the engine is hot, look for bulges or a collapsed section in the hose and oil contamination. Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot, as the hot coolant will be under pressure. Also, be aware that an electric cooling fan can come on at any time.
Here are tips for inspecting belts:
- Look for cracks, fraying, or splits on the top cover.
- Look for signs of glazing on the belt’s sides. Glazed or slick belts can slip, overheat or crack.
Check Your Battery
Heat can zap the life from batteries. Heat is the number one cause of battery failure, and extreme heat can cause the water in a battery to evaporate. This can lead to corrosion of the internal components and battery failure. To maintain your battery, you should clean the corrosive build up around the battery terminals and clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight. The average life of an automotive battery is three to five years. A fully charged automotive battery should measure at 12.6 volts or above, or 13.7 to 14.7 volts when the engine is running. If you don’t have a multimeter to test your battery, most auto part stores offer this service for free.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, but it also can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high.
It’s a good idea to inspect your tires each time you visit a gas station. Check the air pressure and inspect tires for damage. Your tires expand when exposed to heat, and keeping them at the proper pressure will ensure that your vehicle doesn’t suffer from any issues.
You’ll find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your car on a sticker in the door jam, or in your owner’s manual. Some models even place the stickers on the trunk lid, in the console or on the fuel door. Recommended pressure is usually between 30 and 35 PSI. Don’t forget to check your spare tire.
Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car
An emergency vehicle kit is something that you should keep in your vehicle year-round. Your kit should be stored somewhere safe and accessible, and should include the following items:
- Jumper cables
- Screwdrivers and wrenches of various sizes
- A flashlight
- Emergency flares and reflectors
- Water for both the radiator and yourself
- Nonperishable food items
- A first aid kit
- A jack and tire iron
- A can of “Fix-a-Flat” for temporarily sealing and inflating a flat tire
- Blanket and towel
As a final measure, try taking your car for a quick test drive before leaving for your road trip. Listen for any weird noises, or strange feelings while driving. This can help you catch a problem before it gets worse.
For more Driver Safety tips visit www.safe2Drive.com