How the Summer Heat Affects Your Car

June 28, 2021

Temperatures in California are scorching—do you know how that heat affects your vehicle? Beyond too-hot-to-handle steering wheels and overworked air conditioners, summer heat can affect everything from your tires to your engine oil. If you find yourself on the road more than normal this season, it’s smart to understand how the hot weather will affect your car. That way, you can avoid overheating, breakdowns and other inconveniences. Here are some things that can happen to the various parts of your car in the summer heat:

  • Tires: Checking your tire pressure is especially important in the summer months. Heat causes air to expand, which means your tires could be dangerously overinflated. This leaves you prone to blowouts, which are inconvenient at best and potentially deadly at worst. Make sure to check your tire pressure regularly, and make adjustments so it’s always within the recommended range. If you’re not sure what your tire pressure should be, check your owner’s manual.
  • Engine oil: Engine oil has a specific thickness, which is called viscosity. When the oil is heated, either through the engine itself or the summer heat, it becomes thinner and more viscous. This can reduce its efficacy in cooling and lubricating the engine. Your engine might overheat or undergo severe wear and tear. Try switching your engine oil for a summer-specific variety.
  • Battery: Extreme heat and cold are not good for car batteries. When it gets too hot outside, the heat halts the battery’s ionic reactions. The battery won’t be able to crank enough amps to start the engine, leaving you stuck. If your battery is on the older side, now is a good time to consider replacing it. Otherwise, talk to your mechanic about whether any adjustments need to be made—and always park your car indoors or in the shade when possible.
  • Coolant: Coolant, also known as antifreeze, helps the radiator do its job. The radiator takes excess heat from the engine and distributes it safely outside of the car. This saves the engine from overheating. If your coolant levels are too low, the radiator won’t function properly. Take your car in for service to ensure the coolant levels are appropriate. You may need to flush your radiator if it’s close to service time.
  • Other fluids: Remember to keep an eye on your power steering and brake fluid, too. Your car depends on these fluids to power hydraulic systems, and the heat can affect how well they function.
  • Air conditioner. Finally, your air conditioner will probably take a beating this summer. As temperatures creep up over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in many parts of the state, rolling down your windows just doesn’t cut it. This is a good time to take your car in for service, and ask your mechanic to tune up the air conditioner. Even topping off or flushing the fluids can make a big difference in performance.

When you need help preparing your car for driving in the summer heat—or helping it recover from heat-related damage—AAA Sandoval Transmissions can help. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.

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