It’s hot out there. As tempting as lounging at the pool or beach all day may be, sometimes it’s just not feasible. You’ve got places to go, people to see. And if a car is needed to get things done, the sweltering temperatures can lead to a malfunctioning A/C, burning hot steering wheel, or even a dead car battery. While we can’t bring you cooler weather, we can help you beat the heat with these hot weather car maintenance tips.
Prevent battery meltdowns: Cold weather can trigger problems with your car’s battery, but hot weather is actually just as brutal. Excessive heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate, resulting in a malfunction in the charging system. This will potentially destroy the battery. It’s a good idea to have your car inspected for safety and serviced before you head out on a summer road trip.
Get the most out of your air conditioning: Your A/C should also be serviced regularly, but if it still doesn’t seem cold enough, Mechanic Matt has some tips on how to get the most out of your system. If you are in a dry climate with low humidity, use the “fresh air” setting to bring in outside air, which allows the A/C system to cool more efficiently. And if you live in a humid area, set the A/C to “recirculate”, which eliminates the use of high-moisture outside air and makes it easier for the A/C system to cool things down.
Keep an eye on your coolant levels: Your cooling system is working overtime to keep your engine from overheating. To keep it working efficiently, make sure the coolant and distilled water mixture is 50:50. But never open a hot radiator cap, because hot pressurized coolant can spray out! If you aren’t a DIY kind-of-person, your mechanic can change the coolant for you. This should typically be done once a year, but you should check your owner’s manual for recommendations on the frequency.
Avoid sauna status: If you aren’t lucky enough to find that coveted shady spot, your parked car can quickly turn into a sauna. This unfortunate predicament can result in a burning hot steering wheel, a faded interior, and a whole lot of sweat. Consider buying a windshield sun shade which shields your car’s interior from the hot blazing sun. When you return to your car, open the doors for a few minutes to let heat escape, because glass windows insulate heat inside. You could also leave your window cracked (just a bit – you don’t want someone to be able to reach inside!) or get your windows tinted.
Check tire pressure: High temperatures can put extra stress on your tires. Under-inflated tires are already subject to excessive friction, which causes heat, so if it’s hot outside those under-inflated tires are even more likely to fail. But don’t get too crazy and over-inflate your tires, because air expands with heat. Over-inflated tires will result in uneven wear on the treads and could lead to a blowout. Use a tire gauge to check your tire pressure to ensure it matches what is recommended in your owner’s manual.
If these tips seem overwhelming, just be extra sensitive to anything that seems “off”, have your car serviced regularly, and keep an eye on the gauges on your car’s dashboard. Per-mile-insurance customers receive the Metromile Pulse device which enables our smart driving app to decode those pesky check engine lights. Customers can also message our in-house mechanic directly from the app. Check out metromile.com/insurance if you’d like to learn more!