Maintenance

Protect vehicles in hot conditions

Dramatic fluctuations in temperature can wreak havoc on automobiles. While cars and trucks are designed to be reliable under various conditions, sometimes the weather can get the best of even the most reliable vehicle.

Many people associate car troubles with cold weather. However, cars are susceptible to breakdowns when it is hot outside.  Extreme heat adds to an already high temperature under the hood, requiring ventilation and cooling systems to work that much harder. Batteries, alternators, starters, fan motors, and cooling systems are particularly vulnerable to high heat. It's easy for a car to overheat and breakdown. Proper maintenance and some hot weather guidelines can keep drivers safe and on the road when temperatures soar, whether drivers are going on a quick ride or an extended road trip.

* Be sure the radiator is working properly and is filled with fluid at all times. This helps prevent overheating, which can strand a vehicle on the side of the road.

* Hot temperatures cause items to expand, such as the air molecules inside of the tires. Make sure the tires are properly inflated so blowouts do not occur.

* Keep up-to-date with oil changes and other routine maintenance. Vehicles that are well maintained are less likely to be susceptible to heat strain.

* Proper air flow is essential to cool an engine and keep a vehicle air conditioning system operating efficiently. If the cooling system has not recently been serviced, have it done before the hot weather arrives.

* Replace an old battery, and top off a functioning battery with distilled water when necessary, particularly if evaporation has occurred.

* Clean the vehicle so that it will better reflect the sun's rays, cutting down on radiant heat.

* When the vehicle is parked, use a car cover or a reflective shade in the windshield to protect the interior from sun damage and excessive heat.

* Tinted windows can help block out more of the sun's ultraviolet rays. Make sure that tint is legal and applied properly if it is done after-market.

* Plan road trips for early in the morning or late at night to cut down on the amount of time spent driving during the peak heat and sunshine.

* Passengers should wear appropriate clothing and apply sunscreen. Car windows do not block UV light, and passengers may be susceptible to sunburn even when they're in the car.

* Park in the shade whenever possible.

* Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle, even for short moments.

* If the temperature gauge inside of the car reads hot, pull over, open the hood and turn the heat on inside the car to expel some of the pent-up heat.

* Keep plenty of water on hand in the event of a breakdown to prevent dehydration until help arrives.