You live in Tempe where the summer months get hot. Freekin’ hot. Stupid hot. When summer rolls around there are a few things you want to take into consideration regarding your vehicle. For example, your cooling system has to work harder to keep the engine from overheating, tires have to perform under hotter conditions, and if you have a breakdown, you should be prepared to deal with the heat until help arrives or you’re able to repair the vehicle yourself.
Check the tire pressure. Tire pressure is always important but it’s particularly critical in the heat. Just rolling down the road your tires create friction that causes heat. An under-inflated tire make a lot of excess heat. When the road surface itself starts pushing 160 degrees plus your tires have a hard time cooling down. Read your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressures. Properly inflated tires will also last longer and improve gas mileage.
Because of summertime’s higher temperatures, the air pressure in a warm tire rises. Why? Because air is a gas, and gas expands when it heats up. Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressures. The given tire pressure specifications are for when the tires are cold, therefore the pressure should be checked when the tires are cold.
Change the engine oil and adjust the viscosity grade. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil. For example, maple syrup has a higher viscosity than water. Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity. Generally speaking, the warmer the oil is, the thinner it will be. If the oil is too thin, the engine might not get the proper lubrication. To solve this summertime issue, you can change your vehicle’s engine oil to one that is a little thicker. Even when the thicker oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication.
Determining what type of oil your car should have during the summer is easy. Simply read your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The manual will list the manufacturer’s oil recommendations for different climates. If you have a dealership or local garage perform the oil change, you can ask the manager what type and viscosity of oil they are putting into your vehicle. Most modern cars have recommended oil grades of 5W-30, 10W-30 or 10W-40 which are all multi-viscosity grades.
Inspect the belts and hoses. The belts and hoses in modern cars last a long time. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to fail. If you see cracks starting to form on the belt, replace it, but some belts never show any cracks even though they’re worn out. Before summer begins, have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle. And if you’re not sure when they were last replaced, consider having them changed, especially before commencing a long road trip.
Inspect the wipers and wiper fluid. Visibility is always important and our summer storms can be pretty severe. They say your wipers should last a year but our experience is that the sun dries them out in a couple months. A set of wipers is cheap, less than the cost of a tank of gas, so what we suggest is that you keep a spare set with you. Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A summertime thunderstorm isn’t the best time to run out of wiper fluid or to discover your blades aren’t performing properly.
Check the battery. A battery gives little warning before it goes dead and the heat is harder on a battery than the cold. If your vehicle battery is more than three years old, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are clean and free of corrosion. Have the battery tested next time you get your car serviced. It doesn’t cost anything and it could help you avoid an inconvenient failed break down.
Check coolant/antifreeze mixture and your radiator cap. The ideal mixture of coolant and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot-weather performance (and cold) can be compromised. The mixture of water with an equal amount of antifreeze boils at a much higher temperature than straight water. The radiator cap pressurizes the cooling system to raise the boiling point still higher. Ask the technician to check your coolant mixture when you have your car serviced. If the mixture’s balance is off, it can be adjusted by adding either coolant or water.
Make sure your AC is working properly
Carry an emergency kit inside your car. Things you might consider carrying include the following:
A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.
Food and water.
Basic tools like wrenches, a ratchet and sockets, screwdrivers and pliers or Vise-Grips.
Water for sure. You don’t have to be broke down in the desert very long before water becomes an issue.
From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.