Heat- It could be your car’s worst enemy!

Posted on: June 28th, 2012 by sara

           During the extreme summer temperatures most people really don’t think about what the weather is doing to their car. The heat and humidity plays a big role in how various systems and functions of a vehicle operate, such as fluids, belts, hoses, and even the tires.  The high temperatures will be of a higher risk to automobiles that are not properly maintained, or have had the routine maintenance put off maybe a little longer than they really should have.
            First thing to be sure of during the summer heat is to keep up on those oil changes.  Maybe you’ve put your oil change off a little longer than you should. Ok, no big deal right?  Wrong!  What happens as the temperature rises, the oil viscosity becomes lower, meaning the oil in you cars engine is thinner and not providing as much protection as when it is operating under normal circumstances.  So now that you have oil that isn’t as working as well as it should, combined with the fact that your overdue on that oil change, your heading for big trouble in the future.  Old broken down oil that no longer has the lubricity it needs to protect your engine will create higher friction in your engine, causing more heat.  All that on top of the heat outside will create big problems for your engines internal components.  So next time you say to yourself “Oh, I am only a few hundred miles overdue on my oil change”  we remind you, think twice, and assure yourself that it won’t cause you big problems in the future.
            Along with regular oil changes a knowledgeable auto repair facility should monitor regular maintenance items on your vehicle, such as belts and hoses.  These products constructed of mostly rubber are another area of an automobile that will require a little more attention during the months of higher temperatures.  The coolant hoses are more likely to expand and split during the extreme summer temperatures.  Your vehicles belts are constantly moving with the revolutions of the engine, so if your belts are older, or worn out there is a chance that they may have stress cracks in the rubber.  These tiny cracks will have a greater chance of splitting apart in the heat when the rubber gets very soft.  It’s a good idea to monitor them, and have them replaced at your manufacturers recommended intervals to avoid them breaking as you are driving down the road.
            Along with the belts comes another system run by a belt that we do not want to break in the summer, the air conditioning.  Our cars air conditioning system is greatly affected by the heat and humidity.  You may notice when it gets close to 100 degrees outside your air conditioning may not be as cold as it was when it was around 80 degrees.  Do not be alarmed if this happens, its just that the system can not work efficiently in the higher temperatures.  A few tips to get that air as cold as you can is if your car has the option to either re-circulate the air then you should use that. You will use the already cooler air in your car as opposed to drawing in the hot air from the outside of the vehicle.  Another tip to keep that car and the air conditioning cool is to keep the vehicle in motion.  As your vehicle travels you will keep air flowing thru the engine and the air conditioning systems condenser, making the system work more efficiently.
            Last, but certainly not least, the tires.  Maintaining your vehicles tire pressure is very important.  If you still have your tires filled with air, then the air will change pressures with different temperatures.  That being said you have to take into consideration the temperature of the pavement your driving on is higher than that of the temperature of the air.  With your tires constantly moving on hot pavement, it is making the pressure in the tires increase.  A great way to solve this problem is to have your tires inflated with Nitrogen instead of air.  Nitrogen is not as affected by temperature change as drastically as air is.  This helps keep your tire pressures closer to where they should be, and not greatly fluctuating with the temperature outside.
            Keep up on your vehicles regular maintenance and it will treat you much better when the temperature outside is harsh on you and your car.  A little preventative maintenance now will give you peace of mind when the weather becomes drastically hotter.  The last thing you would want is to be stranded on the side of the road in the heat with either an overheating car, or one that will not run at all.  You don’t want to be left without air conditioning when the temperatures are extremely high!