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Driving in the Heat

Baby it’s HOT outside!

Summer heat can be tough on you…and your vehicle.  While most drivers would probably think that winter cold is the worst season to travel in, read on for information on how summer driving can affect a car, truck or van.

The first thing most drivers probably think and worry about is overheating on the road. Randy Pickering, founder of Pickering’s Auto Service in Lakewood and Arvada tells us, “It’s not just the outside temperature that can cause overheating. Restricted air flow and low coolant levels - or even a small cooling system leak – can cause your engine to overheat.  A bad water pump or thermostat can do the same.  It’s always a good idea to have your auto service center do an inspection before you head out on a long trip.”

Before you start out, make sure that there’s enough coolant or antifreeze in the engine. (Yes, antiFREEZE!.  Antifreeze not only keeps your car running right in cold conditions, it works under hot conditions to keep your engine cool.) Coolant and antifreeze are the same thing. Check your manual for manufacturer’s guidelines.   And, remember to glance at your engine temperature often while driving.  Pull over immediately if your vehicle’s internal temperature starts to rise. Take a look at other helpful tips and education on your cooling system here.

Remember, NEVER remove the radiator cap – or any part of your engine’s system, until the engine has had a chance to cool off!  Pressure builds up when liquids are heated and you can be severely injured if you don’t follow these directions.

Your battery can also be negatively impacted in the summer.  Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies and can lead to internal damage and failure.  So it’s wise to make sure that your vehicle’s battery still has plenty of life and is securely installed. Have your battery tested at your repair shop prior to taking a road trip!

Tires can also be impacted in excessive heat.  Air pressure increases as temperatures go up.  Hot outside temperatures and dark colored roads heated by traffic use and the beating sun can lend to tires being too hot to perform well…and in extreme cases, tires can even catch fire!  It your tires are too hot to touch, pull over for a while and let them cool down.  If your tires do start to smoke or even burn – water is the best way to cool them down or put the tire out…so don’t forget to bring along a couple of gallons .

Also keep a watch for areas in the road where the tar has “bled” to the surface.  This will make the payment very slippery and unstable.

Your belts and hoses should also be inspected for hot weather travel, too.  Worn, cracked and/or loose belts cannot turn fans and will not operate pumps correctly which can lead to overheating or even catastrophic engine failure.

Is there such a thing as being “too hot to drive”?  As long as your engine is running between 190-220 degrees, you should be fine…but know that air conditioning, towing and idling can impact this in hot weather.  Check your gauges often while on the road.

One last thing: high speeds produce more heat – so slow down and enjoy your trip!

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