Keep your car running great this summer
With summer travel options still rather limited when compared to pre-Covid days, is should come as no surprise that many more Canadians are planning more local day trips and summer vacations within their province than ever before. And while Canada might be referred to as “The Great White North” by some, those folks likely haven’t spent a summer in Southwestern Ontario. As we know here in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, the heat can be brutal and the humidity intense.
As you might guess, overheating is the number one problem driver’s face while on summer road trips. And just like your battery can taking a beating from the extreme cold, extreme heat isn’t exactly its friend either.
So, if you’re excited to take to the open road for a visit to the cottage, a provincial park or just going to visit family you haven’t seen in quite some time, it makes sense to ensure your vehicle is up to the task before you find yourself hood up on the side of the highway. Before you go, it also makes great sense to make sure you have the right amount of car insurance coverage in place, especially if you reduced coverage on it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once you’re comfortable that you’re properly protected in the event of an accident, consider these tips to prevent your vehicle from suffering a heat-related breakdown.
Check your vehicle’s cooling system
To keep your coolant system functioning properly:
- Flush the coolant according to manufacturer recommendations.
- Make sure the overflow reservoir is topped off with a 50-50 mix of water and coolant if it is running below the fill line. If you keep having to top it off, that means you need to have your coolant system inspected.
- Keep a pre-mixed jug of coolant in the trunk of your car if it is prone to overheating, but never try to remove the radiator cap if the engine is still hot.
- Check rubber hoses and belts for deterioration or leaks. Keep an eye out for a puddle under your car where you park it. That too is a sign you need to have the coolant system checked by a technician.
Is your vehicle’s battery up to snuff?
Extreme high temperatures can shorten the lifespan of car batteries because they work harder in the summer to power your car’s air conditioning system. In addition, battery fluid can evaporate and cause your terminals to corrode and fail. To avoid battery issues this summer:
- Get you battery tested if it is more than three years old to how much life is left.
- Use an old toothbrush with a mixture of baking soda and warm water to scrub off any corrosion on the terminals.
- Avoid parking in the direct sun if you don’t have to. Choose a garage or a shady spot to keep the internal temperature of your battery from climbing too high.
Other things you can do to protect your vehicle from the heat
While the battery and cooling system are most affected by summer’s heat, here are a few more things to do as the temperatures soar:
- Check all fluids including oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid. If you are running low, summer heat can evaporate them entirely, and you’ll end up stranded, or worse.
- If you have a cabin air filter, replacing it will allow your air conditioning to run at optimal efficiently.
- Driving long distances in the summer heat can be hard on your tires. Blowouts are a risk during heatwaves, especially if your tire treads are worn down. Keep an eye on the tire pressure and the condition of the treads.
- If your air conditioner isn’t blowing cold air, you need to get it checked by a technician. You might just need a refrigerant top up, but it could also mean something more serious, like a leak in the system.
- Prepare for breakdowns, especially if you have an older car. Keep an emergency roadside kit in your car that contains water, non-perishable snacks, jumper cables, flares and a flashlight.
- Check with your broker to see if your car insurance policy includes roadside assistance in case of a breakdown.