Most car owners will be aware of the damage that wintry conditions and cold weather can do to your vehicle, but when the summer months roll in, we might not know of some of the wear and tear that sunnier days can mean for your car. The warm weather is great news for us, but the hot roads and long journeys of summer can pose a risk for our cars, both inside and out.
During the peak of summer, your car is having to perform in hot, dry conditions for long periods, which can compromise its performance, safety and appearance over time. Here, we'll run through the damage that summer weather can do to your car, as well as what you can do to do to rectify or prevent these kinds of issues.
Hot weather can cause the air inside your tyres to expand, leaving them prone to over-inflation and, in some cases, making the tyre wall bulge. This, in turn, leaves them susceptible to punctures and blowouts – not what you want to happen on a long, hot journey with your family.
What should you do? Depending on how often you drive, or if you've a big trip coming up, it's a good idea to check the pressure of your tyres every two weeks. Your tyres should be inflated to the correct PSI to ensure proper vehicle function, safety and fuel efficiency out on those hot summer roads.
Your car battery is another target for the effects of hot weather. Heat can affect the chemical processes within the battery, reducing its ability to hold charge and power the vehicle. Factor in the increased load from air conditioning, fans, open windows and sunroofs, and summer can put a lot of additional strain on your car’s battery.
What should you do? We'd advise getting your car serviced in the run-up to summer to ensure it’s ready for the warmer months. Alternatively, ask a mechanic to check the charge of the battery. This will determine the health of your battery, and let you know if you need to replace it or charge it. A set of jump cables is also a good idea for longer trips, particularly if your car's a little on the older side.
In high temperatures, the oil in your car will thin slightly. This can affect the protective properties of the oil, meaning that some parts of the engine don't get the protection they require – ultimately leading to an increase in friction which could contribute to long-term engine damage.
What should you do? Changing the oil before summer can help here, so replace the oil with a high-quality alternative. Always use the recommended oil weight as per the owner's manual to guarantee the best protection for your car.
When it's hot, your car's cooling system has to work a lot harder to keep things at an optimal temperature. Cooling systems need quality coolant to keep all parts of the engine cool. This fluid runs through the engine bay, removing excess heat to keep the engine working at the right temperature. When it’s hot outside, the engine will naturally be running a little warmer than usual – so the cooling system has to work harder to keep things in check.
Problems with cooling systems are more likely to occur during low-speed driving when there's less air circulating through the fan at the front of the car. If you're doing a lot of stop/start city driving or find yourself in road trip traffic, then this could lead to overheating.
What should you do? Regularly keeping your car topped up with quality coolant helps out here. Car engines normally run at an optimum temperature of around 90°C, so make sure you use coolant that offers protection far above this. Quality coolants that offer heat protection over and above 140°C can help to prevent overheating and corrosion.
In the summer, air conditioning feels like an absolute necessity. But poor a/c maintenance throughout the year can pose a problem for you once the hot weather comes around. An a/c system that's not fully functioning might end up being costly to repair, and when you're in a sweltering car on a long journey, air conditioning that's on the blink is less than ideal.
What should you do? Before the summer months come around, get your car's a/c system serviced. Mechanics will be able to examine belts, check for any leaks, and clean out any vents that may be preventing your system from functioning.
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