Are you a Chevy fanatic? Well I have been driving my beloved old Chevy Suburban here in for 17 years, and so I know all about how high temperatures heat can cause all sorts of car problems! If you live in a climate where you get extreme winter temperatures your car may be unprepared for long summer holiday road trips and activities in the heat and sun.
It is really important that you prepare your car for summer madness, and know what you are up against before the problems arise -so today I will be sharing with you a few tips that will help to keep your car running like a charm during the summer months.
What Damage Can Summer Heat Cause To Your Car?
Let take a quick look at how and what damage the sun and heat may cause you and your car so that you know what you are facing:
1. Car Battery
Most people believe that cold weather is the toughest time for a car battery, when you try to start the car on a cold morning only to hear a dull ‘click’ - but in fact the problem has probably already been caused by heat the previous summer! Extreme heat car battery fluid levels to evaporate, causing damage to the internal structure of the battery.
Car Fluid Levels
The heat does not only make you dehydrate because of evaporation! Your car can get thirsty too! The heat causes your engine to lose:
- transmission fluid
- motor oil
- brake fluid
- power steering fluid
- windshield wiper fluid
Also, here's something that you may overlook - gasoline loss . This will not damage your car as such, but it will hit your pocket! It’s not just your money that disappears into thin air because of rising gas prices – fuel turns form a liquid into gas very rapidly when it’s hot outside.It’s really bad news for the environment too, as approximately 20% of all hydrocarbon emissions from vehicles originate from evaporative sources.
Belts and Hoses
The heat and dryness of summer causes rubber and plastic engine belts and hoses to harden, and if they split you will be stuck with more expensive repairs caused by leaks.
The heat really creates problems for tires because when the heat rises so does your tire pressure. In fact for every does a number on tires. For every 10-degree increase in air temperature, your tire pressure increases by 1 PSI. In hot, sunny weather, the PSI of your tires can increase by as much as 5 PSI within the first 20 minutes of driving. If you drive with under-inflated tires the heat will place dangerous stress on the tire walls and increase the risk of blow-outs.
4 Paintwork and Interior
My old Suburban has suffered from the Florida sun despite my best efforts – but after all it is over 17 years old! Just like the skin on your face, the sunlight and heat can cause cosmetic damage to the most beautiful car!
- Paintwork – the sheen and surface of the car may flake and crack
- Interior - Cracks in the dashboard and seats can occur and even the steering wheel can start to flake (yes, that’s happened to my beloved Suburban) from the heat.
- Fading - The interior upholstery and carpets of the car can fade from the sun’s rays (yup, check that too)!
- Car Display - if you have a touch screen display in your vehicle, as many newer cars do, protect it from the sun’s rays, much like your smartphone’s screen need protecting from heat and sun exposure).
So What You Can Do To Maintain Your Car In The Heat?
It goes without saying that it is it is really important to undertake regular car maintenance, whatever the season. Your car takes a considerable beating from the elements, so never take it for granted. So here are a few tips to help you keep your prized car running smoothly.
In general, try and keep your car garaged when possible, and park in the shade when possible. A simple window sunshade can keep your car up to 50 degrees’ cooler
- Keep an eye on your battery indicator dial and look for undercharging
- If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly
- Keep the top of the battery clean – any dirt or corrosion battery power .
2. Car Fluid Levels
Quite simply, prevention is the best cure here, as it is difficult to prevent evaporation. Make sure that stoppers are properly attached and tightened up; check the levels of the car fluids or get a suitably qualified mechanic to check them and get them topped up. Make sure that hoses and belts are still pliable and have elasticity, and check for cracks, the first signs that they might leak.
- Wash your tires regularly, clean and coat them with a special protectant to keep them from drying out
- Keep the air pressure at the manufacturer’s recommended summer pressure levels (PSI)
- Replace winter tires with high-temperature resistant summer tires
- Do not overload the car when making long trips, drive gently – and don’t burn rubber!
4. Paintwork and Interior
- Wash and dry often to remove dirt and dust –drying with a chamois or cotton rag is important because the mineral in water can cause spot damage
- Wax your car regularly (guilty as charged again…) to protect paintwork from UV rays
- Park in the shade whenever you can
- Use a Sunshade whenever you are parked in the direct sunlight
- Use dash and rear deck covers
- Install durable all-weather mats to protect carpeting
- Clean the upholstery and if you have leather seats (yes, check that..) polish them regularly
Finally, even if you are not an experienced mechanic, these are tasks that even the most nervous novice can carry out, and if even if you get confused about what you should be doing, you can consult the many useful Chevrolet "how-to” videos that are available online.
I have not always followed these steps to look after my beloved old Chevy jalopy during her sunny existence, but for a 17-year-old she is looking surprisingly good for her age! But writing this article, as we move into Florida summer sauna season, is reminding me to assuage my guilt and look after her better.
So give a little regular attention to your favorite vehicle and you’ll have smooth driving all summer long!