Summer time Car Tips To Avoid The Auto Blues
Car giving you the summer time blues? From AC vs. rolling the windows down to keeping your pet safe, here are answers to your summer driving questions.
Like most people, chances are good that when summer time rolls around, you’re ready to get in the car and go. From a day trip to the beach to a weekend getaway, summer is all about traveling and having fun. With the snow gone and heavy spring rains in the past, you probably think nothing of getting in the car and taking off. But what you might not know is that the heat can be just as tough on your car as driving in winter. From keeping an eye on the coolant fluid to cooling off a parked car, here are some tips for safe and comfortable summer time driving.
KEEP YOUR PARKED CAR FROM ROASTING, OR COOL IT DOWN IF IT’S SCORCHING
If you’ve ever jumped in your car on a hot summer day and immediately grabbed the wheel, you know just how much your car can heat up while parked, and how painful that can be! When your car is left parked in the sun, it can heat up a lot, and heat up surprisingly fast. In less than an hour, your car’s temperature can rise by over 40ºF! That means if you’re starting with a base temperature of 85ºF, your car’s temperature can reach up to 125ºF by the time you come back. If you’re traveling somewhere with children or pets, it’s especially important to prevent your car from getting too hot, as the rapidly rising temperatures can cause death to either in just minutes.
If you’ve had the misfortune of returning to a stifling hot car, you’re probably eager to know how to prevent that from happening in the future. And if you do inevitably return to a hot car again, there are things you can do to cool it down.
Park In The Shade
Although the shaded areas might be farther away from the store or restaurant where you’re going, you’ll probably agree that parking beneath a tree or other shaded area is worth the extra walk. Parking in a garage is the best option of all, as the sun rotates during the day and may end up hitting your car anyways.
Get A Sun Shade
A sun shade to your car is what sunglasses are to your eyes. A sun shade is essentially a visor that you put in the windshield when you park. The sun shade will work wonders for keeping the car’s interior cool. Some sun shades also have UV-resistant materials, which reduces the amount of UV light entering the car. When selecting a sun shade, be sure to get one that’s the right size for your car.
Crack The Windows
Leaving the windows on your car open just a bit can keep the interior from getting too hot, especially if there is a breeze. A few tips for this one: don’t open the windows so much that someone could come along, stick an arm in, and steal valuables from your car. Also, watch the weather to make sure you’re not about to encounter rain or thunderstorms. It’s easier to fix a car that’s too hot than it is to repair one that’s suffered rain damage!
Cooling Off A Hot Car
If for whatever reason your car ended up getting too hot during the day, worry not! There are still ways to cool it down. If you have a few extra minutes where the car is parked, open all the windows for about 30-60 seconds. Don’t crank the AC the instant you get to the car, as the car’s components are still hot, and forcing the AC to work hard can wear out the parts and cause damage. In fact, don’t run the AC until you’ve started moving. Once you’ve started out, roll down the windows and turn on the AC at the same time. Once the AC has cooled to the desired temperature, roll up the windows. Set both the temperature and air output to the minimum amount needed, since forcing out very cold air at high volumes taxes your AC system. If you discover that something seems off with your AC system, don’t hesitate to contact Mac’s Automotive for service, as AC issues only get worse!
DOES THE AC REALLY WASTE GAS? ROLLING THE WINDOWS DOWN vs. CRANKING THE AC
This is an age old question, and it may have caused you to lose (or win) money bet against family and friends. Well, rest assured that you’ll lose money no more. The answer, says Business Insider, is that rolling down the window saves both money and fuel. The reason is simple: running the AC, at all temperatures and most speeds, causes the engine to work harder, which burns gasoline. The only exception is if you’re moving at 75 MPH and above, in which case the drag caused by keeping the windows open makes rolling down the windows less efficient than switching on the AC. Ultimately, the reason for a reduced fuel economy comes down to fuel use. The slower you travel while running the AC, the more energy – and gas – you’ll use. Hotter temperatures also strain the AC system. Despite this knowledge, if you do decide to use the AC, there are some ways to drive smart while doing so. Only set the AC as cool as needed, and only start the AC after you’ve started driving. Leaving your windows open a bit, parking in a shaded area, or using a sun shade to block heat will reduce the car’s temperature during the day, which in turn reduces your impulse to crank the AC.
CHECKING SUMMER TIME COOLANT FLUID LEVELS IN YOUR CAR
When summer time rolls around, chances are you become obsessed with your car’s air conditioning. You might not have thought about it for months, but suddenly you’re wondering: “Is it working right?” “Why isn’t it cold yet?” “Will I end up spending more on gas this summer by cranking the AC?” But while you’re busy thinking of the air conditioning, you might be neglecting one of the most important parts of the car – the engine. Even in the summer time, the engine needs attention. And one critical part to check is the coolant fluid. The coolant fluid is so important that you can think of it as your car’s blood. Your car won’t “live” without it, and you really won’t be able to go without it, either. What you might not realize is that the coolant fluid is important for helping the engine work properly in all seasons. For many reasons, it’s important for the engine to stay cool in warmer weather. Keeping the engine cool can reduce the strain on your car’s battery, which in turn extends its lifespan. A properly cooled engine will also work less hard to keep the car going, which makes its parts last longer and improves fuel efficiency. To make sure you don’t end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere with an overheated engine, here are some engine-related conditions to keep in mind as the weather turns warmer.
Check The Coolant Fluid Level
One of the easiest, and most basic, things you can do is to check the coolant fluid level. The coolant level needs to be at a precise level to keep the engine running smoothly. If the fluid level drops below the “safe” amount, you could be in for big problems. If there isn’t enough coolant fluid, the engine can overheat, which in turn can permanently damage its many (and expensive) components. If you’re not sure what your engine’s coolant level should be, you can either consult the owner’s manual or ask a qualified mechanic at Mac’s Automotive Service & Radiator Repair Shop. If you’re determined to check the coolant level yourself, there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind, both for you and your car:
- Never take the radiator cap off when the engine is warm. Doing so can cause severe burns! Wait at least 30 minutes after parking your car to check the coolant fluid. The same rule applies for checking anything under the hood
- Only use the type of coolant fluid recommended by your owner’s manual. Using the wrong type of coolant fluid does more harm than good, as it can destroy the engine and potentially void the warranty
- If the coolant fluid levels mysteriously drop after you put coolant fluid in, there’s a good chance you have a leak. If you notice that the fluid levels keep dropping, or if a warning sign comes on the dashboard to check the coolant fluid levels, don’t ignore the problem. Bring it to a mechanic. Coolant fluid leaks can go from bad to worse quickly, and you’re better off stopping problems before they start!
Lastly, another thing to check when you’re looking at the coolant fluid are the surrounding clamps and hoses. If they appear dirty, grimy, or worn out, it might be time for new ones. If you don’t want to perform this analysis yourself, it’s of course always recommended that you enlist the help of qualified mechanic to help out.
As you can see, there’s actually a lot to think about when you’re driving in the summer time. But rest assured that from fixing a problem to giving you safe and practical driving tips, the team at Mac’s Automotive Service & Repair Shop is ready to help. We’ll check out all your car’s major systems, including the engine, tires, AC, and fluid levels, before you start logging seasonal miles or embark on an epic road trip. If repairs are needed, we’ll let you know, and we’ll take care of that too. When in doubt, we encourage you to call or contact us for a car check-up to ensure summer with your car is memorable in a good way!