Summer driving doesn't have as bad a reputation as winter driving, which means many drivers don't take the proper precautions to make sure their cars are ready for the unique driving conditions of summer. While you don't have to worry about icy conditions or snow, summer heat can be just as dangerous. When a car overheats, it can quit without warning and the car's engine can end up with serious, permanent damage.
Here's what you should know about keeping your car from overheating this summer.
Top off your coolant
If you expect high temperatures and you plan on taking some road trips, make sure you top off your coolant frequently. You can find the coolant reservoir connect at the top of the radiator. Note the level indicator that shows when the level of coolant is considered low. If you're on the road and your coolant is low, you can refill it with water in a pinch, even if the car is already hot. If you run out of coolant entirely and have nothing to refill the reservoir, do not drive your car.
Jensen Tire & Auto also suggests checking "the coolant system for leaks or discoloration of fluids." A leak could be indicated if your coolant runs out frequently or if your levels are topped but the engine's temperature continues to rise.
Check your owner's manual for more information on topping off your coolant.
Watch for 'H'
Familiarize yourself with the gauges on your dashboard. One of the gauges will indicate engine temperature. When it's hot outside, your engine's temperature will start higher and rise faster than at other times of year. If you notice the needle approaching the red or the "H" portion of the temperature gauge, pull over immediately.
When the temperature rises really high, you might notice steam escaping from the hood of the car. If that happens, you must turn off the car as quickly as possible. Opening the hood will help vent the heat, as well.
Turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heater
If you're worried your engine is getting too hot but it's not an option to pull over and let it cool off, turn off your air conditioner. It may seem counterintuitive, but running your air conditioning doesn't cool down your engine; it actually puts more strain on it.
Instead, get ready to sweat and turn on your heater. You'll be blasting the engine's heat out of the engine compartment, helping it cool down more quickly.
Go easy on the brakes
The less accelerating and braking you do, the better. Rather than accelerating quickly and then riding the brakes in stop-and-go traffic, let your engine idle forward and only accelerate as gently as possible.
Visit an auto service technician
If your car overheats frequently, it's a good idea to have it checked out by an auto service technician who can determine if there's an underlying cause. Jensen Tire & Auto explains, "There are many reasons your vehicle may overheat because most vehicles today have cooling systems that support electric fans, thermo switches, computer systems and more." If one part goes bad, it could impact the functioning of the whole engine system.
Another reason to visit an auto service technician would be to get a coolant flush. Doityourself.com points out that while the antifreeze in your coolant doesn't expire, the additives that prevent corrosion do. That's why technicians recommend changing the coolant every 30,000 miles.
Have more questions about staying cool on the road this summer? Contact Jensen Tire & Auto, locally owned and family owned since 1973, to find out more about protecting your car from overheating.