Is Your Car Ready for the Heat of Summer?
How Can Extreme Heat Affect My Vehicle?
Many places across Australia experience extreme heat throughout summer. While we are set to see higher levels of rainfall this summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, we will also experience higher than average summer temperatures in many parts of the country. Some people find that they cope better in hot weather more so than others, and arguably, the same could be said for your car.
Extreme heat can place added strain on your vehicle, in particular the cooling system, battery and tyres. Find out how heat can affect your vehicle and what you may be able to do to reduce the added strain.
Your Car’s Cooling System can Suffer in Extreme Heat
Most modern vehicles are cooled by liquid cooling systems that rely on coolant to regulate the engine’s overall temperature to prevent it from freezing or overheating. Coolant, also referred to as antifreeze, has a very high boiling point and a very low freezing point that assist coolant to work even in extreme temperatures.
However, coolant can be required to work particularly hard in summer to keep the vehicle’s engine operating at the correct temperature. On particularly hot days, it can be susceptible to overheating. This risk increases if your vehicle has unknowingly become low on coolant, which may be the result of a leak. When your engine overheats it can result in serious and potentially expensive damage.
You can reduce the risk of an overheated engine by ensuring you keep the cooling system topped up with good quality coolant. You should typically aim to assess your coolant level twice a year. Always make sure the engine is cool before checking, as removing the radiator cap on a hot engine poses a safety risk.
Checking the coolant level is as simple as looking to see if it sits between the minimum and maximum marks, which are indicated on the side of the coolant reservoir tank. If the level appears below the guide marks, your coolant will require a top up.
Warning signs that there may be an issue with your vehicle’s cooling system include:
- Coolant level frequently drops below the guide marks
- Engine temperature (or alert light) is triggered
- Visible leaks and puddles appear underneath the vehicle
Whilst these issues may be indicators of other issues, for instance a puddle beneath your car may also be the result of air conditioning condensation, if you do experience any of these issues you can contact your local BestDrive store to arrange a cooling system service.
Your Car Battery May be Under Extra Strain in the Heat
The higher temperatures typically encountered in summer can evaporate the vital liquids in your vehicle’s battery and weaken its charge. Furthermore, the increased use of fans, windows and air conditioning system can add additional strain. Higher temperatures may also increase the corrosion process which damages the internal structure of the battery.
While most modern car batteries are maintenance free you can usually still see a window or water level indicator that shows you where the water level is sitting. Although you don’t need to check or top up fluid levels in a maintenance-free battery, this window will assist you in identifying a potential leak.
There are some things that you can do to help prevent unexpected, premature battery failure, and these include:
- Limiting the number of short, stop-and-go trips that don’t give your car battery ample opportunity to fully recharge
- Ensuring internal and external lights, such as the headlights, are turned off when you leave your vehicle.
- Keep the battery and battery terminals clean, as built up grime adds a layer of resistance between your car and the battery. This can force the battery to work harder and therefore may drain the battery of power much faster.
If you have noticed that your car is taking longer to start than usual, the battery warning light is lit up on your vehicle dashboard or you notice that the battery appears swollen or has signs of corrosion, contact your local BestDrive store. Our qualified technicians can inspect and assess the current condition of your car battery.
Your Tyres Run the Risk of Overinflation in Hot Weather
It’s simple science - heat makes the air in your tyres expand. This can cause your tyres to become overinflated, tyre bulging or in the worst case scenario, may result in a tyre blowout, which can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
The rubber compound in car tyres is specifically engineered for high resistance to low heat build-up, however, failure to monitor tyre pressures poses a risk of over or underinflated tyres. You should make checking tyre pressures a regular part of your general car maintenance by checking, and adjusting when necessary, your tyre pressures once a month. In doing so, you are more likely to avoid the risks associated with driving on overinflated tyres.
With the summer season officially upon us, now is the time to ensure that your vehicle is well prepared. Hotter conditions place components such as the car battery, cooling system and tyres under additional stress. If your car is due for a scheduled service, or you have any concerns about your vehicle, contact your local BestDrive store for assistance.
BestDrive. You drive, we care.