Summer-izing Your Car

It’s nearly June, ABQ drivers. We haven’t yet begun to feel the full heat we know is coming…and neither has your car. There’s still time to prepare!

Make the Rider Comfortable

Overheated drivers are angry drivers, and angry drivers are dangerous. Fully functioning AC can cool off hot heads behind the wheel. So the first step to preparing you and your car for summer: get your AC checked.

Checking your AC starts with you—turn it on: is it blowing cold air? If not, you can begin to diagnose the problem. If there’s little or no air moving, the problem is likely to be with the fan belt. But if the air is blowing out of all vents but doesn’t cool off when the temperature control is set as far as it can go in the “blue,” then you may need to get your refrigerant recharged.

If your car has been baking in the sun for hours, it’s going to take the AC a few minutes to cool your interior to a preferable temperature. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the discomfort you feel in those first few minutes:

    • Use sunshades. You know how important shade is by how competitive drivers get looking for parking under it. But if you can’t find a tree or building for shade, make your own. Any way you can limit the amount of direct sunlight filtering through your windows will help control the temperature (and save your dash).
    • Cover your steering wheel. If a fuzzy pink steering wheel cover isn’t your style, there are plenty of moleskin-feeling gray and tan covers to pick from. These covers absorb heat but don’t transfer it back to your hands the same way the steering wheel does.
    • Cover your seats. Particularly if you have leather upholstery, you may want to throw a towel or blanket over your seats. This will help minimize sun damage to the actual materials, but it will also keep your buns from burning when you slide into the driver’s seat.

If your car is parked in a secure area, you may also consider leaving the windows open about ½-1 inch. Letting the air circulate will allow some heat to escape instead of continually heating up your car.

Make the Ride Comfortable

Just as you need to be comfortable driving in the heat, so does your car. Your car already generates a lot of heat by running. When outdoor temperatures cannot provide much cooling potential (and actually keeps most of the powertrain heated when not running), the changes for overheating increase.

You can prevent overheating by making sure that your car has adequate coolant. During extreme heat, check your coolant level periodically when your engine is cool. Don’t just rely on your engine temperature dashboard gauge.

Summer heat bakes asphalt roads, and that heat is quickly transferred to your tires. When your tires heat, the air inside them expands. You can prevent tire over inflation, which increase the risk of a tire blowout, by keeping tire pressure 1-2 psi lower than manufacturer’s recommendations during the summer months.

Consistency is Key

When it comes to keeping both the driver and car comfortable during the hot summer months, it’s important to do regular maintenance:

Put up your sunshade every day, even when you do get the coveted spot under a tree.

Check your tire pressure weekly when you stop to get gas.

Check your coolant level before heading to work for the week.

Getting into a routine will help these heat-relief practices habit and help you spot any need for professional assistance early.