Prevent Automotive Breakdowns this Summer
Those who are familiar with Phoenix summer temperatures know that extreme heat and cars just don’t mix. Summer weather can cause quite a few automotive issues that can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Dead batteries, blown tires and dry-rotted tires are the least of the problems that can disable a vehicle. Engine failure due to overheating is an even bigger issue that can unfortunately cost a driver thousands of dollars in repairs.
Here are some useful tips from Premier Coach Works for keeping your car in road-worthy conditions for the summer ahead.
Check Your Tires
It is incredibly important to monitor the condition of your tires on a daily basis. Make sure that your tires maintain the recommended pressure set by the manufacturer of the vehicle, rather than the pressure recommended by the tire manufacturer. The recommended pressure is printed on the side of the driver’s door, in the glove compartment door, or in the owner’s manual. If you are carrying a heavy load, fill the tires to the recommended “heavy loads” pressure in the owner’s manual.
Remember that the tire pressure will increase as the temperature outside increases. The extreme heat we face in Arizona is the cause of many tire blow-outs on the road, given that soaring temperatures increase the pressure of the air in the tire to points that exceed the capacity of the tire walls. Friction between the tire and the road as you drive also increases heat, so the only way to get an accurate reading of your tire pressure is check it with a dial-type gauge before you start driving.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the wear and tear of your tires’ treads. The minimal tread depth should be 3/32 inch, or in other words, the distance from the edge of a penny to the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head. You don’t really want to drive on minimum tread; ideally, you want to change your tires before they get worn down. An uneven wear pattern can also be a hazard. If your tires are wearing unevenly, you likely need to check your wheel alignment. When purchasing new tires, it is important that you do not opt for the cheapest set possible as cheap tires deform more at higher speeds. This means that they are more likely to wear unevenly. Make sure you have your tires rotated at every oil change.
Check Your Battery
Summer heat can be more damaging to your battery than chilly winter temperatures. As the mercury rises, the strength of the battery decreases, and corrosion can occur when temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit combine with hot temperatures under the hood. To check the condition of your battery, make sure that the cables are snug and firmly connected to the battery. Keep the battery clean by regularly disconnecting the cables and wiping down the terminals. You will likely need to replace the battery every two to three years, though most retailers have a warranty on the battery and will replace it at no cost if it fails within that warranty period.
Check the Coolant and Radiator
Summertime can be rough on cooling systems and many cars can overheat when sitting in traffic on a hot day, as there is no airflow across the engine to keep it cool. A well-tuned cooling system can idle for longer periods of time, but an engine with low levels of coolant or a defective fan belt can succumb to the heat rapidly. The hood of a car can quickly reach temperatures of over 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. An egg can fry in five minutes at a temperature of only 131 degrees Fahrenheit, so imagine what that can do to your engine! Be sure to keep your coolant filled to the recommended level and have your radiator flushed and refilled every two years to keep the radiator clean. If you notice a puddle of coolant under your car after it’s been parked, it is time to take it in to a mechanic to check for a coolant leak; if this doesn’t get repaired, you could end up stranded on the side of the road on a hot afternoon.
As a final point, be sure to follow our tips for protecting your car’s exterior from the sun and for maintaining your car’s paint job. Premier Coach Works is a full service Auto Body Repair and Paint Shop in El Mirage, Arizona. To prepare your car for the summer, get an online quote from our service facility and let us get you going this summer.