We’re in one of the hottest summers of our lifetimes. And as temperature records continue to be broken across the country, it’s not slowing many down from the summer road trips they’ve had planned all year. But like everything else, extreme heat can have an effect on your vehicle’s performance, and being stranded is a dangerous situation for anyone.
So whether you're embarking on a long road trip or simply commuting in hot weather, it's crucial to follow some essential tips to ensure a safe and smooth journey.
Regular Vehicle Maintenance:
Before hitting the road in hot weather, conduct a thorough inspection and ensure your vehicle is in top-notch condition. Extreme heat can exacerbate existing issues, leading to breakdowns and ultimately costly repairs.
Here are some key areas to check:
Cooling System: Inspect the coolant level and condition, radiator, hoses, and water pump. A well-maintained cooling system is crucial in preventing engine overheating.
Air Conditioning: Ensure your vehicle's air conditioning system is working correctly. If needed, recharge the refrigerant and replace the cabin air filter for optimal cooling performance.
Tires: Check the tire pressure regularly, as hot roads can cause tire blowouts if they are underinflated. Also, inspect the tire tread depth and overall condition.
Engine Belts and Fluids: Inspect all belts and hoses for signs of wear and replace if necessary. Check and top up essential fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid.
Plan Your Travel and Rest Stops:
Whenever possible, try to avoid driving during the hottest hours of the day, typically between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. If your journey is long, plan breaks every two hours to stretch your legs, hydrate, and allow the vehicle's engine to cool down. During these stops, find shaded areas or covered rest stops to protect your vehicle from direct sunlight, reducing interior heat buildup.
Keep Your Vehicle Hydrated:
Just like staying hydrated is vital for your well-being, your vehicle also needs proper hydration to perform optimally in extreme heat. Ensure the coolant levels are sufficient and the mixture is appropriate for the temperature range. A 50:50 mix of antifreeze and water is typically recommended. Additionally, carry extra coolant and water in your vehicle in case of emergencies.
Protect Your Vehicle's Interior:
When parking your vehicle during extreme heat, employ strategies to protect the interior from scorching temperatures. Consider using sunshades for the windshield and windows to block direct sunlight. If possible, park in shaded areas or use covered parking to shield your vehicle from the heat. Investing in a windshield visor can also help keep the steering wheel and dashboard from becoming too hot to handle, not to mention burning arms and legs when wearing shorts and t-shirts.
Be Prepared for Emergencies:
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? No matter how well you prepare, emergencies can still occur. In extreme heat, being stranded on the road without help can be dangerous. Always carry an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items like a first aid kit, extra water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, jumper cables, and a fully charged mobile phone. If you have pets or someone with a compromised medical situation, make sure you have plenty of water and ways to cool down. Personally, I carry a cooler full of water and snacks for not only myself, but my dog as well. In case of a breakdown, stay with your vehicle and call for assistance. For a shortcut, just pick up our Uncharted Car Kit Premium!
Driving in extreme heat requires careful planning and precautionary measures to ensure both your safety and your vehicle's well-being. Regular maintenance, planning breaks, keeping your vehicle hydrated, protecting the interior, and being prepared for emergencies are essential tips to follow during hot weather conditions. By adhering to these guidelines, you can navigate through scorching temperatures with confidence, making your summer journeys enjoyable and stress-free. Stay cool and drive safe.