1. Is there anything I should or shouldn’t do in the summertime to keep my car safe?
Yes. Make sure all of your services are up to date, especially the cooling system, fluid changes, belt and hose replacements and air conditioning tune-ups. Under the hood, temperatures can reach upwards of 450 degrees and any weak system or component is at risk of failing. Heat is the #1 cause of transmission, belt and hose failures. Having your transmission serviced acts as ‘insurance’ against a breakdown or a costly repair. Replace belts and hoses every five years or 100,000 miles unless the manufacturer suggests otherwise.
2. How can I make my air conditioning system perform better?
Five things will help you cool down more efficiently:
- Open the windows when you get in the car to get rid of all the hot air and drive a few minutes down the road. Then turn on the A/C. The A/C system actually removes hot air instead of blowing cold air. Getting rid of the hot air first will cool you down faster!
- Use the recirculation mode or the “max” mode. This mode recycles the air already inside of your car and cools it down with each cycle.
- Close the windows and don’t let heat back into the car!
- Replace the cabin air filter as needed.
- Have the A/C system serviced every two to three years. Keeping the system well maintained will maximize performance and save you money.
3. How do I know if my car is overheating?
The first sign a vehicle is starting to overheat should be a warning light on the dashboard. Pay attention to the temperature gauge. If the dial approaches “H”, be aware your vehicle may be overheating. Sluggish performance or a knocking noise can also be a sign. If any red warning lights on the dashboard turn on, pull over in a safe place and turn off the engine.
4. What should I do if I think my car is overheating?
Call for help. If you try to fix anything yourself, you run the chance of burning yourself with hot coolant. The system needs to cool down before anyone can service it. Most summertime roadside breakdowns occur because of high heat – overheated batteries, disconnected or blocked hoses, and antifreeze leaks to name a few. Periodically check under your vehicle and look for any drips or stains. This could indicate an antifreeze leak or a disconnected hose, a common cause of overheating.
5. I thought batteries died more frequently in the winter, is that so?
No. High heat and high temperatures under the hood cause just as many battery failures as freezing temperatures. The water in the battery acid evaporates during the summer months and if not serviced, this could cause a failure. Have the battery checked at least once a year!