Summer can be tough on cars, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns and car problems, according to the Car Care Council.
LIFE OF YOUR BATTERY
Your Car Battery can take a beating from the Texas Heat. Extreme temperatures can shorten the life of a battery. Heat may cause battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery which can shorten the life of the batter. A malfunctioning voltage regulator, can cause your battery to overcharge, which will destroy your battery prematurely. To get the most life out of a battery, it is recommended that you have the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging correctly. If your car’s battery is the type that allows for fluids to be added, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary (most modern batteries are sealed). Another quick tip is to keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.
THE COOLING SYSTEM.
The cooling system in your vehicle also takes a beating during the hot Texas summers as they work to prevent the engine from overheating. To keep the cooling system working at maximum efficiency make sure that your vehicle’s radiator is topped off with the manufactures recommend coolant. As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles. This will keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside, which helps prevent corrosion and assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection.
A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked 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 also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it’s important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner’s manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle’s tires.
“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.