While the prolonged, extreme heat is tough on people and pets, it’s also hard on our vehicles. James McWilliams, director of automotive services for Triple A-Iowa, says if you don’t want to be stuck somewhere under the sweltering sun, there are a few things to check to make sure your car’s road-worthy during this heat wave.
“Heat really, really zaps the life out of the battery,” McWilliams says. “It’s a good idea to have the battery checked. They usually last three or four years.” McWilliams says vibrations can also cause a battery to malfunction so make sure it’s securely mounted. While under the hood, he recommends you check the belts for wear and cracks.
If you see two or three cracks for every quarter inch, see a technician. Also, check your hoses. You can squeeze them when they’re cool,” he says. “If you feel a crackling sound inside or see some bubbles or soft spots, get it to a tech and have it checked.” McWilliams says engines have to work hard in the summer and the cooling system’s job is to keep it from overheating.
“The cooling system should be flushed about every five years, every 50-thousand miles on newer vehicles, two years or 24-thousand miles on the older vehicles but check your owner’s manual to be certain,” he says. “Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot because there is boiling fluid in there and it’s under pressure and can cause severe burns.”
McWilliams says to look at where the rubber meets the road as blowouts are common in hot weather. “Under-inflated tires overheat very quickly and cause the rubber to separate from the core of the tire,” McWilliams says. “Make sure your tires are inflated properly. You can do this by checking the tire pressure information located on the door jamb on the driver’s side of the vehicle, not what’s written on the tire. Or, check the owner’s manual.”
Other things car owners can easily check include: motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid. While many people put an emergency kit in the car during the winter, you should also have a kit for the summer months.
Include in the kit: bottled water, non-perishable food, jumper cables, flashlight, batteries, road flares and a first aid kit.