Summertime heat can be hard to beat, and that includes your vehicles. Getting into your car on a scorching day is uncomfortable, as we all know the unpleasant feeling of hot leather seats and steering wheels. But staying cool this summer is actually quite simple when you implement some specific steps to keep your vehicle safe from the sunshine.
Try following these tips to prepare your car for the summertime heat!
Buy Cooling Seat Covers
If your car is not equipped with cooling seats, you can purchase cooling car seat covers that plug into your car’s cigarette lighter or other power sources. Like their winter equivalent of seat warmers, cooling car seats can be purchased at hardware stores or places like Amazon.com.
Check the Radiator
Make sure that your radiator is full of coolant and has no visible leaks or cracks. While driving, keep an eye on the temperature gauge for any signs of overheating. It’s better to catch an overheating engine sooner rather than later to prevent further damage.
Check the Fluid Levels
Summertime heat not only can dehydrate people but also fluid levels in your vehicle. Heat amplifies the importance of checking your car’s fluid levels, such as motor oil, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, and brake fluid, for evaporation. Keep a close eye on the engine oil levels—a hot engine needs more lubrication, so engine oil must work harder and be plentiful. Make sure your oil is fresh and topped off to ensure your car continues to run efficiently.
Crack the Windows
It’s important not to leave your windows fully down when not around the vehicle. Keeping your windows cracked even just the slightest bit will help with the circulation in your car. Ensure the crack is not big enough to fit a hand or arm inside to avoid burglary or foul play.
Examine the Air Conditioner
Air conditioning is undoubtedly your best friend during the long summer months. Make sure to clear any debris from your air conditioner and inspect for leaks. If your car’s air conditioner is not maintaining the interior temperature well, the refrigerant level may be low. Even if you try not to use your air conditioner excessively, make sure to test its working and if it breaks, take it to a mechanic right away.
Use a Sunshade
Because car windows absorb sunlight and magnify the heat inside your car, putting up sunshades on the windshield and windows will block out the heat to a great extent. Sunshades are affordable, easy to use, and can last for several seasons. Keeping a few sunshades in the back of your vehicle during the summer is essential to handling the heat and can help prevent your dashboard from cracking.
Inspect Your Tires
Driving with under-inflated tires affect handling and braking, causing tires to overheat and possibly blow out. This is even more of a concern when the temperatures of road asphalt are very high. Tires should be checked for proper inflation levels, tire treads, and signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment issue.
Keep an Eye on the Dash Lights
Even though this is a year-round consideration, it’s important to keep a closer eye on the dashboard lights during the summer. Overheating and fluid evaporation are more common during the summer, increasing the need to monitor alert lights on the dash. If any alert lights are flashing red, you should turn on the hazard lights, pull your vehicle into a safe location, turn off your engine as soon as possible, and open the hood to release the heat. This will help prevent further damage to the car.
Keep Your System Cool
Engines work overtime during the summer, and the cooling system must protect them from overheating. Additives in the coolant protect the radiator and internal engine components, so you need to keep the cooling system working properly to avoid engine damage and summertime overheating. Coolant systems need to be flushed, and the coolant replaced periodically to keep the additives from being depleted.
Prepare a Summer Car Emergency Kit
High summer temperatures can be unbearable if you find yourself in an emergency and are stuck waiting for a tow truck or roadside service, so put together a summer emergency kit and keep it in your car. Include things such as:
- Ballcap or wide-brimmed hat
- Blanket for shade
- Bottled water
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Hazard flares and reflective triangles
- Items to fix a flat tire
- Jumper cables
- Non-perishable foods
- Phone charger
- Small toolkit
- Tire sealant and gauge
Protect Your Kids
You don’t want your little passengers getting burned by hot car seats or having too much direct sunlight beating down on them. Get a reflective sunshade that perfectly fits kids’ car seats to avoid hot metal and plastic burning their small fingers, and put sun visors up on the backseat windows to prevent sunstroke and burns.
Do a Quick Cooldown
We all know the feeling of getting into a blazing hot car. But if you want to cool down your vehicle fast, try this method: roll down the front passenger window, then open and close the driver’s side door 5 or 6 times. This gets the air flowing quickly and works to cool down your entire vehicle.
Remove Perishable and Meltable Items
Whether it’s a snack item that fell between the seats or a kid’s toy, make sure to clean out your car before the real heat arrives. Food products will spoil much faster in the heat, so check for any waste from on-the-road snacking to prevent gross and unwanted smells. Also, make sure to tidy away any toys left behind by children, especially ones that can melt—for instance, silly putty, slime, and crayons are all prime suspects for leaving behind a giant mess in your vehicle when it’s hot.
Check Out Your Battery
Summertime heat leads to faster evaporation of battery fluid, leading to corrosion of terminals and connections. Make sure to clean any buildup from battery terminals and cable clamps. Since hot summertime conditions place a significant amount of stress on your car’s battery, it’s even more crucial to replace older batteries in preparation for summer. Replace batteries more than three years old, and have other batteries tested by a technician to determine how long they will last. Doing so will keep your car running smoothly and prevent any instances of an overheated battery.
Run Your Windshield Wipers
It may seem odd, but running your windshield wipers will benefit your blades. Being exposed to the hot sun can sometimes melt parts of your windshield wiper blades, causing them to stick to the windshield. If you regularly run your windshield wipers, this helps to cool down and unstick them. However, if the wiper blades are warped beyond measure, it’s time to replace them.
It may seem obvious, but parking in the shade makes a huge difference, especially if your car has a dark exterior. This is one of the most straightforward solutions for keeping your vehicle cool in the summer. Take the time to find trees to park underneath, an underground lot, or a tall building that casts shade on parking spots. If you can’t find a shaded area, try turning your car around so that sunlight will shine into the back of the vehicle rather than the front seats and steering wheel.
Take Precautions Before Attaching a Boat Trailer
If you have a boat or plan to transport any watercraft for summertime activities, make sure you inspect the vehicle and trailer for possible issues or breakage. Check the lights, brakes, hitch, and other equipment, to ensure that everything is securely attached and that your setup is not over the recommended weight limit.
Turn the Steering Wheel
Whenever you park your car, try turning the steering wheel 180 degrees. This ensures that the side you touch to drive will not be in direct sunlight through the windows and windshields, and hopefully, the steering wheel will not burn your hands.
Use a Fine-Mist Spray Bottle
You can cool down hot metal, leather, or plastic surfaces in your car using a small fine-mist spray bottle. Point and shoot at any sizzling portions of your vehicle and allow the process of evaporation to cool down the surface quickly. Alternatively, you can use a cool, damp cloth to wipe down hot surfaces.
Look Into Window Tinting
Though the price of window tinting can be steep, it is an excellent way to ensure the sunshine won’t turn your car into an oven. Tinted windows will constantly block out the sun and protect the contents of your vehicle from prying eyes. Some states have different regulations on the level of tint allowed, so double-check the window tinting regulations from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Currently, windows to the left and right of the driver must have a light transmittance value of 25% or more, regardless of the make, model, or year of the vehicle.
Did you find this helpful? If so, check out our blog on child passenger safety.