Living in New England, we are familiar with record high temperatures in the summer months. Have you ever wondered how extreme heat can affect your car?
In the summertime, calls to AAA for roadside assistance increase, often due to vacation travel and extended use of the car’s A/C system. To ensure your car lasts through long stretches of hot weather, pay close attention to the following.
A car battery consists of a liquid electrolyte solution composed of water, acid and lead plates. Extreme temperatures can cause the water to evaporate and leave the lead plates vulnerable, potentially causing corrosion. This leads to a reduced ability to hold a charge, which can prevent you from starting your car.
Evaporation occurs due to how much the battery can heat up – as much as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, versus an ideal 80 degrees. Every 15 degrees above this baseline reduces the battery’s cycle by 50 percent. As you drive in the summer, using the air conditioning will place greater strain on the battery.
To maintain your car’s battery in extreme heat, park in the shade. Go for a ride each day to get the alternator operating and also think about maintenance. Make sure the connections are secure and free of corrosion or have a professional inspect the battery.
Two factors can affect your tires in high temperatures. For one, heat increases the air inside – one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t check the pressure, you risk having over-inflated tires and experiencing a blowout.
This combination also places greater, often uneven wear on the treads. Those along the center see the greatest degree of damage, compared to the edges. As your tires are made of rubber, high temperatures and overinflation can deform their shape, which further affects the treads and can lead to cracks.
Extreme heat can cause the oil running through your car’s engine to partially evaporate and thicken. Any deposits picked up by the fluid now have more of an abrasive effect, resulting in more pervasive damage and potential corrosion. If you’re planning a longer trip this summer, be sure to have the oil checked and potentially flushed and replaced before you hit the road.
When temperatures rise as you’re driving, you turn on the air conditioning for relief. Yet, extreme heat causes all parts of the cooling system, including the water pump, hoses and radiator, to work harder. As a result, you risk having one of these parts fail or using up all the coolant – two factors that can quickly cause the engine to overheat and result in significant damage.
Extreme heat also causes gasoline or ethanol in your vehicle to evaporate, altering the air-fuel mixture. As a result, the air traveling to the engine decreases in density and premature ignition can occur. Your spark plugs initially shoulder the damage but should this pattern repeat, the pistons and accompanying rings will also fail to function.
Belts and Hoses
Similar to the tires, numerous belts and hoses can rapidly wear, if not fail due to extreme heat. High temperatures and overheating from the engine can cause cracking, bulging or abrading. As a result, the related system no longer functions or fluid may leak out, which can greatly impact the engine’s performance.
Have extreme summer temperatures affected your vehicle? Whether you’re concerned about the battery, need to have your tires examined or the fluids flushed, reach out to DaSilva’s Auto Body for an assessment and repairs. To schedule an appointment, contact our Naugatuck shop today.