Summer means beach days and less traffic, BBQs and pool parties and in Miami specifically, it also means rising temperatures that result in extreme heat. Aside from taking care of yourself and making sure you are properly hydrated, your car will need a bit of that TLC, too! The Miami sun and humidity can take a serious toll on your car, putting it way past its limits. Unless you’re interested in being stranded on the side of the road, we recommend the following tips to best care for your vehicle during the remaining summer months:
Keep your engine cool. Cooling systems protect engines from overheating and should be flushed from time to time, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Between flushes, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level by checking the overflow reservoir. If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. CAUTION! – Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns. Rubber cooling system components are susceptible to heat-related deterioration, so periodically inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout, especially when road temperatures are very high. Check your car’s tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month. Did you know tires typically lose about one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage? For the most accurate reading, check tire pressures when the tires are cool. Always follow inflation pressure recommendations in your vehicle owner’s manual or on the tire information label located in your glove box. Do not use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall, which may not be the correct pressure for your particular vehicle.
Make sure your battery is prepared for high temperatures. Battery problems don’t always occur in the winter. In fact, summer heat can have a more negative impact on your battery than freezing winter temperatures. Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies, leading to internal breakdown and eventual failure. While you can’t do much about the heat, you can make sure your battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration. Another potential problem is faster evaporation of battery fluid, which leads to corrosion on terminals and connections. Clean any corrosive buildup from battery terminals and cable clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight enough that they will not move. If a battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer it will last.
Make sure fluids are at appropriate levels. Most engine fluids lubricate and serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, the cooling effect is reduced, which increases the possibility of overheating. Make sure to check all vehicle fluids, including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid, to ensure they are at appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, check the owner’s manual for the specific type of fluid you need.
Maintain a comfortable driving environment. During extreme summer heat, an air-conditioning system can be more than just a pleasant convenience. It can reduce fatigue, which plays an important part in driver alertness and vehicle safety. If a car’s air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature as well as it once did, it may mean the refrigerant level is low or there is another problem. Have the system checked by a certified technician. In addition, if your car has a cabin filter, it should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.
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