Summer is the most fun time of year, filled with outdoor activities on beautiful, sunny days.
Those fun activities include a lot of driving, whether on road trips or just to get from point A to point B. With all that back and forth, it’s essential you take care of your vehicle and the people it holds. With that in mind, here are six summer driving tips.
Check your tire pressure
Anytime there’s a change in temperature, your tire pressure changes, as well. In summer, that could mean overinflated tires.
Drivers should check their tire pressure monthly, and especially when tires are cold.
If you wait until you’ve been driving awhile to check, you could get an inaccurately high reading, meaning your tires are actually underinflated. Underinflated tires cause poor gas mileage, more tire wear and increased risk for a blowout.
Run the air conditioner
If you want to save gas while keeping cool, you have two choices: run the air conditioner or roll down the windows. In the debate of which is more efficient, most sources point to a Society of Automotive Engineers study that tested the difference.
“Rolling the windows down in a vehicle increases the drag and the vehicle fuel consumption,” researchers write. “If the customer turns the AC off to save fuel, and rolls the windows down, fuel consumption may not improve as much as customer expects.”
A sports utility vehicle in the study was affected by wind drag more than a sedan, but both were less efficient with gas when the windows were down than when the air conditioner was running.
Store water and snacks
You never know when you might get stuck in traffic, so always have water nearby to avoid dehydration. As for snacks, stick to ones that can withstand heat, such as granola bars without chocolate, crackers and nuts. Rotate through your supply to keep everything fresh.
Don’t leave anyone in a vehicle
Every summer, there are tragic stories about the deaths of children and animals who were left inside a hot car. Even in 70-degree weather, the temperature in a vehicle rises too quickly to be safe, according to Stanford University School of Medicine research.
"On a cool day, you don't feel hot so you believe it will be OK," researcher James Quinn said. "But ambient temperature doesn't matter; it's whether it's sunny out."
Additionally, cracking a window is ineffective, as the inside of a car will still not be cool enough, according to a study in the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society. As such, even if you’re running inside for “just a minute,” take your dog or child with you, or skip the stop.
Prevent engine overheating
One of the best ways to keep your engine in good shape is with regular oil changes.
“You want to be sure your oil level never drops too low or that you drive hundreds of miles past your next scheduled oil change date,” Jensen Tire & Auto says. “Doing so can lead to excessive wear or damage to your engine.”
If your engine overheats while driving, turn on your heater to divert heat from the engine, which will lower the temperature of the coolant. It’ll make you hot inside the vehicle (so open the windows), but if it saves your engine in time to get to a mechanic, it’ll be worth it.
Keep your tank full
Road trips take you through unfamiliar territory, often with nothing but nature for miles around. As such, make it a habit to fill up anytime your gas gauge is below the halfway mark. It may require a couple extra stops, but that’s better than running out of fuel with no station in sight.