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Is Driving in Hot Weather Bad for Cars?

hot weather car temperature gauge

There are three major components to car safety: the condition of the car, having enough gas in the tank, and preventing the car from overheating. The latter includes checking the engine’s oil levels and avoiding driving in extremely hot weather. Driving in hot weather is not just bad for the car, which can lead to expensive repairs, but it’s also bad for the occupants. In the summer months, not only can hot temperatures wear on engine components, but can also affect your car’s air conditioning system. In this article, we outline ways in which a car can become damaged in extreme heat.

Is Driving in Hot Weather Bad for Cars?

Rubber tires

Although vehicles are designed and manufactured to withstand certain amounts of heat caused by friction, tires are vulnerable when the exposure to high temperatures is prolonged. Under such conditions, tire rubber becomes susceptible to puncturing and blowouts.

To prevent accidents, inspect the tires before setting off on road trips. Keeping the tires at the correct psi pressure will also help, apart from improving overall performance.

Wet Cell Batteries

Vehicles that have wet cell batteries can also be damaged by extreme summer heat. Extreme heat can evaporate the water in the cells. Therefore, cells need to be checked regularly to keep them from drying out. Wet cell batteries must be filled and topped up with distilled water when the water levels are low.

Always remember, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, you should check the levels regularly, especially after driving mid to long distances or having been in a traffic jam.

Antifreeze levels

Perhaps surprising to some, antifreeze levels are just as important in the summer. Antifreeze, despite its name, prevents vehicle engines from overheating. An engine won’t cool down properly if the antifreeze level is too low. This puts the engine in jeopardy of failure or significant damage. During extreme heat spells, the engine components can consume a fair degree of antifreeze, resulting in antifreeze levels dropping.

Older Pipe Expansion and Contraction

The pipes in an older car with lots of mileage are usually well worn, which can lead to leaks or bursting. In extreme heat, older pipes can perish quicker and without suspicion, especially if they have been running hot. Leaking pipes can lead to serious forms of engine damage or leave you suddenly stranded on the side of the road or in the middle of the highway.

Usually, when a car is inspected during routine maintenance, the auto mechanic might comment on the condition of the pipes. Although we may be reluctant to pay to replace them, it is a good idea to replace them every few years. It isn’t necessary to use genuine replacement parts as generics will serve the purpose, especially in older, paid-off vehicles.

Paint Job

Older models are susceptible to having their paint fade or even crack. Nowadays car washing includes applying polish or oil to the body. In newer vehicles, the paint is also more sophisticated and includes compounds that offer more ultra-violet protection. If you have an older car in good running, it might be worth it to get a new paint job to preserve its value.

Be proactive

Checking tire pressure and fluid levels isn’t as helpful when the car is running hot during the day. Therefore, the best time to check them is first thing in the morning when the tires and engine are still cold or cool. Before taking off, be sure to check the levels of:

  • Water
  • Oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Steering fluid
  • Battery cell levels
  • Tire PSI pressure

Additional Information: Heat, Autos, and Safety

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