Tips To Keep Cool On The Road

Car on hot road
Photo Credit: Take Photo/Shutterstock
The American Automobile Association predicts that Americans will take 700 million road trips this summer. While that number is down nearly 15% from last July through September, that’s still a lot of road trips. Whether you are taking one of those road trips or staying close to home, the summer heat can be challenging for your vehicle. We’ve already provided some tips on what to do as you prep your vehicle for the hot summer weather. But the folks at Michelin are reminding us that there are things you can do once the heat wave’s already arrived.

Begin with a Safety Check: In extreme heat conditions make sure you check the coolant and radiator. Sitting in traffic on a hot day can quickly overheat your car. If you have low coolant levels, your engine temperature can rise fast. Check under the hood and make sure that your coolant levels are where they should be. This is also a good time to give your car a full check up. Before you hit the road, make sure your lights, fluids, hoses, windshield wipers and tires are all in good working order.

Check Your Tire Pressure: We’re huge proponents of staying on top of tire maintenance -- after all, you have a lot riding on them. Driving on under-inflated tires affects your vehicle’s performance, but did you know it can also cause tires to overheat. With extreme heat conditions outside, tires should be checked and inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

As a general rule, your tire pressure will gain or lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10° F change in temperature. Check your air pressure when tires are ‘cold’ in the morning and compare that number to the sticker in your door jamb before hitting the road. Don’t forget to check the air in your spare, too.

Fill up Your Gas Tank Early Morning or Late Night: This one is something you might not think about. But filling up earlier in the day can actually save you money. Gas is cooler earlier in the day and becomes denser as temperatures rise. Fill up your gas tank in cooler temperatures to get more for your buck.

Emergency Preparedness: No matter what time of the year it is, don’t leave your house with a preparedness kit in your car in case of an emergency. An emergency kit should include enough bottled water to keep you hydrated during a road trip.

Also, carry non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles and first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.

Have Your Battery Tested: Extreme heat conditions can drain your battery. You can’t control the temperature outside, but you can visually inspect your battery to see any bulging, cracks or leaking. If your car battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a trained technician to avoid getting stuck on the road.

A final note, summer time is a busy time at an auto dealership service shop. But don’t let that deter you from getting important maintenance done. Just be prepared to be patient and always try to schedule an appointment ahead of time. Click here to read our article on how to deal with summer service woes at the dealership.

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