Now that summer is here, it may be time to check if your car can take the heat. Before you head out on your next road trip, make sure your vehicle is properly prepared to handle the season.
Many drivers understand the affect of extreme cold on their vehicle, however it's important not to underestimate the impact of extreme heat. Rising temperatures outside a vehicle mean an increase in the temperature under the hood, often causing an increase in battery-related issues. Mixed with humidity, hot roads, and extended summer trips, heat can greatly impact your vehicle’s performance.
In fact, a car battery can lose its charge up to 33% faster in extreme heat compared to the bitter cold. Extreme temperatures can weaken a vehicle’s battery and accelerate corrosion, which in turn shortens its lifespan.
While you may not be able to control the temperature outside of the vehicle, there are certain steps you can take to prevent the headache of unexpected car trouble. Consider the following essential summer car care tips before you hit the road this summer:
Inspect your battery
Don’t wait until it’s too late to have your battery checked. Inspect the brackets to make sure they properly secure the battery, as loose brackets shorten the lifespan of the battery and can damage your vehicle. Swelling, cracking or leaking are key indicators that your battery will need to be replaced.
"Motorists driving cars with a battery four years or older...run the risk of battery failure. We recommend they get it tested, replaced and recycled," said Bill Willard, Vice President of Automotive at CAA Niagara.
As part of CAA's mobile battery service, a CAA technician will come to your home or workplace and test your car’s battery. Testing, delivery and installation are all free for Members. Plus, Members save $25 on the cost of a new battery, which can be installed during your appointment. Learn more about CAA mobile battery services.
You might also like: 7 must-haves for every summer road trip.
Asses your air conditioning
Does your air conditioner seem like it’s lacking power? Warm air could indicate various issues that range in severity. Maintain the comfort of your vehicle in extreme heat and ensure it’s reaching peak efficiency. Before you head out on a long road trip, have your air conditioner inspected by a trusted technician. Find a CAA Approved Auto Repair Facility near you.
Hydration is key
Before packing your own reusable water bottle, ensure that your car also has the fluids it needs to stay hydrated on the road. Check your oil and change it, if needed. Remember to check your vehicle’s windshield wiper and coolant fluid levels.
Avoid the rush of last-minute stops and fill up on gas before departing on your trip. Download the CAA App to find the lowest gas prices near you.
Pay attention to warning lights
Never ignore your vehicle's warnings. Left unchecked, warning signals could indicate major passenger safety concerns as well as damage to your vehicle. If a battery or charging warning light appears, it might mean that there is a limited amount of battery remaining to power your vehicle. If you’re unable to pull off to the side of the road safely, turn off the air conditioning, phone chargers, stereo and any other device that draws power.
Once you have pulled off, it’s important to have a technician asses the health of your battery and check to see whether or not your vehicle is safe to drive.
Study your owner's manual so you understand your dashboard warning symbols. Learn more about other common dashboard warning symbols.
Be picky about where you park
Keeping your vehicle as cool as possible is a great way to extend the lifespan of your battery. Next time you’re parking, choose a fully- or semi-shaded area. For extended parking stays, consider parking in a garage, or under a carport or car canopy. Reflective window covers are also an affordable and effective way to reduce the buildup of heat in your vehicle.
Limit short trips
Give your battery time to fully recharge between trips. Short, stop-and-go trips can weaken your battery. Need to run errands, close to home? Opt for an alternative mode of transportation, such as public transit or go green and take your bike.
Before you head out on your summer vacation, remember to pack a fully charged cell phone, a car emergency kit, tire pressure gauge, and, most importantly, your CAA Membership card.