It’s Not All Fun in the Sun for Your Car
The so-called “dog days” of summer have arrived, and the allure of the last road trip or summer outing is pretty strong. However, before you pack up your ride and hit the open highway for your one last “hoorah” before fall arrives, you should take time to do a little summer car care.
Now, we’re not talking about the basics like changing the oil and topping up your coolant, although you should definitely do those things, too. We want to make you aware of some of the ways that the summertime heat can do other kinds of damage to your beloved automobile, so you can take steps to make sure your ride survives to drive again for many summers to come.
Car Care for the Summertime Blues
- The Gas Tank: You may not think about it, but gas is a liquid, and all liquids can evaporate if they get warm enough. Gasoline too? You betcha, even in the tank. Now, it may not seem like much, and it’s not exactly a safety concern, but we all know that gas prices tend to rise up in the summer, so the damage to your wallet isn’t something to scoff at. Now, modern processes have minimized evaporation (did you know that fuel you buy in the summer has a different formula than fuel you buy in the winter?), but if your gasoline gets hot, it can and will evaporate. Take care that your gas cap is in good working order, and park in the shade this summer.
- The Battery: Heat and batteries just don’t mix. The battery in your car is a “wet cell” battery, meaning that there’s liquid battery acid in there. Immersed in this acid are several plates, and the chemical reaction that occurs between the plates and the acid are what gives your battery its ability to store an electrical charge. Most car batteries are good for a few years, and according to the Car Care Council, the number one cause of shortened battery life is – you guessed it – heat. Parking in the shade will help prolong the life of this critical component, and while we’re at it, if your battery’s two years old, have it tested. If you’re driving on a three year old battery, save yourself from being stranded, and just replace it. You’ll thank us later.
- The Tires: Tires are built to withstand the rigors of higher temperature, so you may be wondering why we’re listing tires here. Well, you’re not going find your tires melted to a puddle on the pavement, but there is one risk you should definitely know about: improperly inflated tires are at greater risk of a blowout on hotter days. A flat tire’s an inconvenience, but a catastrophic failure, or blowout, can cause a serious accident and take lives. We can’t say it enough – check your tire pressure at least once a month, and make sure they’re properly inflated all year round.
- The Transmission: Sometimes a road trip comes with an accessory. If you have a trailer, boat, or other such item that you tow behind your vehicle, make sure your transmission is able to handle the strain. If you try to pull more than you should, your transmission heats up as the fluid is pushed faster, creating friction. All those things can build up over time, until – BLAM! That transmission is history. If your vehicle doesn’t have a towing package, don’t take chances. You can install an auxiliary transmission oil cooler to help prevent this costly little accident.