Hot! Hot! Hot! Summer’s high temperatures are here and skyrocketing! We often remember to slather on the sunblock and wear a hat to protect our skin from the sun but, what we might forget, is that we also need to take precautions to protect our vehicles from the extreme heat. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your vehicle for the summer heat.
- Fill the tank – Check your fuel levels and try to keep the tank at least half-full during the summer months. Running out of gas—and being stranded—can be especially dangerous in extreme heat. Try to fill your tank when temperatures are not as high, preferably in the morning.
- Keep the engine cool – Have your cooling system checked and make sure you have enough coolant. While you’re at it, check the other vehicle fluids including power steering fluid, brake fluid, motor oil and transmission fluid. You also should consider having the air conditioning system serviced. All of these systems play a critical role in keeping your vehicle moving and ensuring a comfortable riding experience for you and your passengers.
- Check your battery – Hot temperatures can shorten the life of your battery, especially if it’s more than three years old. It’s a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables so you won’t be stranded in the heat. If you have an electric vehicle, the heat can reduce the mileage per charge so it’s important to keep track of your traveling distance and ensure you’re keeping the battery charged.
- Check your tires – Become familiar with your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure and check tires at least once a month. Under-inflated and over-inflated tires can be more sensitive to overheating and can lead to a blowout.
- Check your windshield – Cracks and chips in a windshield are prone to spreading with rising temperatures. Heat can cause a windshield to expand and contract, often causing cracks and chips to spread. A sudden change in temperature also can add stress to an already damaged windshield. If you’re unable to repair cracks and chips, roll your windows down to allow some heat to exit before turning on your air conditioning. When temperatures peak, you should park in shaded areas as often as possible and consider cracking your windows a half inch to prevent trapping the heat.
- Clean out your car – Take a few moments to remove items that have potential to cause damage or may be damaged from the heat. Items to consider are: electronics, lighters, anything in an aerosol can (hair-spray, deodorant, air-freshener), make-up, and perishable foods. Keep in mind that temperatures can quickly exceed 140 degrees inside a parked vehicle.
- Carry water – It’s important to keep hydrated throughout the day. This includes carrying extra water in your vehicle for everyone, including pets.
- Check twice for children and pets - Never leave children or pets unattended in a parked vehicle, ever. Even if you only plan to be out of the car for a couple of minutes, temperatures can rise quickly inside the vehicle creating hazardous and potentially deadly conditions.
Before you hit the road, make sure you’ve got all the information you need to stay safe in the heat. Check out MCDOT’s Fact or Fiction: Answering your questions about the heat