As warm weather makes its way to the northern states during summer months, many more vehicles become exposed to higher than normal temperatures. Any concerns of the impact high temperatures have on a motor vehicle’s operation during this time period is most likely the furthest thing from people’s minds, but cannot be ignored.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be aware of the problems that may arise with operating a motor vehicle during high temperature conditions. Here are a few potential problems to be aware of and a few preventative and helpful tips.
1. Air conditioning system (A/C) not cooling the vehicle fast enough
When an A/C system is operating properly, vehicles cool down quickly. If not, there is a problem. Your system may not be fully charged. There may be a leak. A sensor may be faulty. A system component may not be operating correctly. In any of the aforementioned cases and due to the system complexity, it’s best to have a certified professional perform a diagnostic service in order to determine the root cause of the problem.
2. Engine temperature higher than normal operating conditions
For those vehicles that have an engine temperature gauge, you may notice the gauge slightly higher than normal or an engine coolant dashboard light may be illuminated. This could be due to several reasons; your vehicle may be low on coolant, the vehicle’s HVAC system may have a leak, the engine thermostat may be inoperable, or you may have a faulty sensor. A quick look in the engine compartment at the coolant level will determine if you are low on coolant. Check your owners manual to locate the coolant reservoir. IMPORTANT – do not remove or touch the radiator cap when the engine is hot. This can cause severe burning. If your vehicle is low on coolant, you can trust your local NAPA Auto Parts store to determine which type of coolant is required for your vehicle. Not all coolant is the same – some vehicles require certain types of coolant. If your coolant level is at the proper level, have a certified professional perform a diagnostic service in order to determine the cause of the high engine temperature and to prevent future car problems.
3. Over-inflated tires
Tire pressure may be impacted when a vehicle sits for long periods of time in the hot sun. The pressure can increase as much as 1PSI for every ten degrees of temperature. Conversely, tire pressure can decrease in cold weather. In either case, it is important to check tire pressure on all four tires before you hit the road. An over-inflated tire means that less of the tire’s surface comes in contact with the road. Not only will tires wear unevenly (shortening their lifecycle), the vehicle is less safe to drive due to poor handling and braking. Tire pressure for your vehicle can be found inside the driver’s side door jam. Tire pressure can be measured and monitored with a simple tire pressure gauge that you can buy at your local auto parts store or major big box retailer.
4. All engine fluids
For summer or winter months, it’s always important to check all vehicle fluids; engine oil, power steering, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and for those vehicles with non-closed systems, transmission fluid. If you are unsure on how to check these fluids, have a look at your owners manual. If self-checks are not your cup of tea, have a local professional perform a check. There are other vehicle fluids to check that require a professional tech. These include transfer case and differential all associated with the vehicle drivetrain components. Most automotive service centers will perform this service at no charge.
5. Vehicle cabin interior
If you have no choice and have to park in the direct sunlight, here are a few tips to help with a hot vehicle interior. Keep vehicle windows opened a slight crack. Purchase a dashboard sunshade to reflect some of the sunlight coming into the vehicle interior and causing the cabin to increase in temperature.
Following these simple tips will help you keep your vehicle safe and in good operating condition during the hot summer months and not alongside the road. If you are having any of these car problems and need a professional to have a look at your vehicle, Openbay is always here to help with its nationwide network of trusted automotive service centers. Safe travels.