It’s 90+ degrees outside and you’re one of thousands sitting in a traffic jam on the interstate. As you pass a car on the shoulder, you see an unhappy, red-faced man on his cell phone next to a dejected woman and three sweaty kids. You look at them, breath a sigh of relief, and think, “So glad that isn’t me.”
Summer driving tips
No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road wishing they’d better prepared their car for summer driving. That’s why we’ve got some summer driving tips to help you keep you and your car moving smoothly.
Summer Drving Tips: Battery
Your battery doesn’t just work hard during the winter. High temperatures can be even more damaging. Battery fluid can evaporate in excessive heat. If that happens, the internal structure of the battery will be compromised, leading to damage in the voltage regulator and the battery’s eventual demise.
If you drive many miles in the summer, it pays to get the entire electrical system checked to make sure your battery is charging at the correct rate. You also need to keep the top of the battery clean for two important reasons.
First, dirt can become a conductor and suck battery power. Second, if the battery isn’t clean, the corrosion can insulate the battery and suppress the flow of the current, which you’re going to need to help keep your car running smoothly.
Summer Driving Tips: Cooling System
Sitting on black top in the hot sun puts extra pressure on your car’s cooling system. To keep the engine working effectively, the coolant should be changed annually (for most vehicles). This keeps it fresh and clean, ensuring the proper boiling point and protection.
The thermostat, cooling fan, hoses and drive belts should also be examined to make sure they’re in good condition.
Summer Driving Tips: Air Conditioner
Get this checked out by a pro! He’ll be able to determine whether it’s a leak in the system or if you need a hit of R-134a, aka Freon 2.0 (unlike Freon, R-134a isn’t destructive to the ozone layer).
Summer Driving Tips: Tires
Your owner’s manual will tell you what the pressure should be. Don’t forget to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, depending on your particular vehicle (check the owner’s manual).
“The best time to check your tire pressure is the morning, when tires are cold.”
Summer Driving Tips: Brakes
Summer fun can lead to a lot more driving. Getting your brakes checked is especially important if they’re squeaking or you’re experiencing any of these brake problems.
Be particularly vigilant If you’re planning to drive through hilly and mountainous regions. The increase in summer temperatures combined with the extra stress on your brakes can damage your pads and hardware if they haven’t been changed in the last 35,000-45,000 miles.
Summer Driving Tips: Fluids
Low prices are great; low fluid levels aren’t. Start by checking your oil, which helps keep your engine cool by lubricating all the moving parts under the hood. If it’s low, top it off and then check it again in a week or two. If it’s low again, you probably have a leak and need to take it to a mechanic.
Because heat causes liquids to evaporate, you should also check the transmission fluid, changing brake fluid, power steering fluid, anti-freeze, and windshield wiper fluid.
Summer Driving Tips: Weather
If you’ve just gone through a winter of scraping snow and ice off your windshield, now’s the perfect time to change your wipers blades so that they’re working at full capacity if and when an unexpected, torrential downpour strikes.
Changing windshield wipers is easy and inexpensive, so don’t wait. Avoid the streaking and scraping that are at best a nuisance and at worst a danger.
Summer Driving Tips: The Unexpected
If you’re driving for any length of time, here are a few extra ways to make sure your trip is uneventful on the road.
- Bring some extra coolant and a quart or two of oil.
- Don’t wait for a flat tire to try out the jack that came with your car. Get it out, make sure you have all the parts that came with it, and get comfortable using it. Speaking of flat tires, if your route is taking you through unpopulated areas, go out and buy a real “spare” tire. 50 miles, which is what the little ones are good for, won’t get you to a city if you’re in the middle of the desert.
- Bring a toolbox with a screwdriver, duct tape, a pair of pliers, and vise grips.
- Bring a first aid kit. This is especially important if you’re traveling with children. Trust us.
Summer Driving Tips: The Fun Stuff
“Fun is good,” wrote Dr. Seuss. So as we round out our summer driving tips, let’s not forget it. Snacks. Music. Books on tape. Need we say more?
What are your essential summer driving tips or advice? Let us know on our Facebook page.