Hot summer day? It shouldn’t come as any surprise that heat puts a strain on your car’s cooling system. But you may be surprised that speeding down the freeway on a sultry afternoon isn’t the worst case. Actually your engine has to strain while traveling at low speeds, such as when towing or heading up a steep grade. Why? There’s far less air going past the radiator and through the engine compartment.
High temperatures affects other parts of your vehicle too. They’re dangerous for people, and not just the elderly. Here’s some information we hope will help keep our customers safe and healthy.
Summer Health and Safety
Cars parked in the sun get really hot, even in moderate weather. But do you know how hot? As outdoor temperatures approach 100 degrees, a car’s interior can quickly reach 130 to even as high as 170. Leaving windows open a fraction of an inch actually makes little difference. So never leave children or pets inside alone!
If you’re stranded by the side of the road or out in the sun for any reason a heat wave can still pose a big health problem.
- Heat exhaustion can occur when you’re exposed to hot weather and become dehydrated. It’s not just an old wives’ tale. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness or fainting, fatigue, headaches, and pale skin. If you experience any of these take in some liquids and move to a cool area.
- If you fail to take action, heat stroke is the next stage. Also called sun stroke, it needs to be taken very seriously — if untreated it can actually be fatal. Additional symptoms may be a bit subtle, such as a decrease in sweating despite the heat. Others such as muscle cramps and/or nausea are more obvious. And seizures and unconscious the most extreme. Any of these symptoms call for immediate medical attention.
High temperatures cause more than just radiator boil overs. Heat puts extra strain on many parts of a vehicle, but here are the most common problems.
- Batteries — Elevated temperatures affect the chemistry of how batteries work. They can also cause the electrolyte to evaporate, and too low a level can cause permanent damage.
- Radiators — Boil overs can happen even if there’s plenty of fluid. And serious overheating can occur even without a boil over, particularly if it’s been a while since your last drain-and-flush. Water has a much lower boiling point than the proper fluid mix, and lacks protective additives. So use plain water only in emergencies, then have your car’s cooling system serviced as soon as possible.
- Tires — Air expands when it’s hot, so tire air pressure can become too high making blowouts more common. Right after parking on hot asphalt may be more of a risk than breezing down the highway. Some sources suggest that even punctures and flats are more likely during the summer. So check your tire pressure every time you fill up.
- Transmissions — Today’s transmissions often have their own cooling systems that need proper maintenance. And with or without, transmission failures are more common in summer months.
Proper maintenance, including adequate oil levels, is your best defense against these problems.
Give us a call in the late spring or early summer for scheduled maintenance. We can include an oil and filter change, take care of radiator and transmission fluids, test your battery, and more. Or schedule a check-up right before a road trip for extra safety and security. We’re ASE certified and your local dealer alternative.