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How Does Heat Affect Your Car? Let’s Count The Ways

Sun on a road. With summer right around the corner, here are ways heat can affect your car and what to do about it.

How does heat affect your car? In many ways, including how it performs as well as the toll it takes on various parts and components. In extreme heat, the impact can become severe, but fortunately, you may be able to thwart certain problems by taking action now. Here’s how to prepare your car for a summer heat wave and avoid potentially costly damage.

Summer Heat Wave Preparation

1. Check the Tire Pressure

From my personal collection.Tire pressure and air temperature go hand in hand, with the latter affecting the former. We may already realize tires lose pressure when temperatures drop, but the opposite is also true. Indeed, for every 10-degree rise in the temperature, tire pressure will increase by 1 PSI. During a heat wave, your tire pressure may increase by 5 PSI, which can make them overinflated. Over-inflation causes premature tire wear and may also affect traction and performance. Before heading out on a hot day, check each tire, including the spare. Release excess air if they’re overinflated. And always rotate tires on a regular basis as outlined in your owner’s manual.

2. Inspect the Battery

Cold weather is one of the biggest enemies of a car battery, degrading battery life severely. Many battery failures, though, happen during hot weather, because batteries that have been weakened by winter cannot withstand extreme heat. Inspect the battery, remove any corrosive buildup on the terminals and battery clamps, and ensure that each connection is tight. If your battery is at least three years old, have it tested to determine how much longer it will last.

3. Replenish Fluids, as Needed

Hot weather takes its toll on the fluids required to keep key components running. Give your vehicle a break by ensuring the motor oil is clean and filled. The same applies to the transmission, power steering and brake fluids, and the coolant. Replenish or flush, as necessary. When searching for new coolant, be sure to use a high-quality option like extended-life antifreeze. Check for leaks and ensure the connections for all hoses and clamps are secure. While the hood is up, top off the windshield fluid.

4. Examine All Belts

Just as hoses can crack and wear out, belts can too. Extreme heat can take a toll on the drive belt. Examine all belts for signs of cracking, soft spots, or other indicators of wear and tear. Replace worn belts now to avoid a breakdown later.

5. Consider the Air Conditioner

There may be nothing worse than being stuck in stop-and-go traffic with a failed air conditioner. Maintaining a proper cabin temperature is essential to reducing fatigue and keeping everyone happy. The air conditioning system depends on refrigerant to cool the car, but if this cooling substance is low, then it cannot do its job. A cooling system checkup ensures a recharged system, the air conditioner clutch is working, and there are no visible signs of leakage.

Be Summertime Heat Aware

A parked car can reach deadly hot temperatures in a matter of minutes. Never leave pets or children in a vehicle, even when it’s parked in the shade. Rapidly rising cabin temperatures can lead to heatstroke, which can prove fatal. Always carry an emergency kit in your vehicle and if you belong to a roadside assistance service, keep that number handy for a quick response in a breakdown.

Use this checklist to get your car ready for loads of fun in the summer.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how does heat affect your car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Matthew C. Keegan and Pixabay.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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