| Car Life
Panic stricken blonde girl leans over smoking car engine, in need of roadside assistance

Every car deserves its day in the sun! Or does it? With high temps just around the corner, summer is heating up fast. Could this mean car troubles for your cool ride? To keep you in-the-know, we’ve researched some common car issues that may happen over the summer. Check out these tips on what to expect and how you might be able to avoid these summertime car problems altogether!

The Most Common Summer Car Problems

Weak or No A/C

If you haven’t kicked your air conditioning into high gear in a while, the rising temperatures could spell trouble! Extreme heat could cause parts in the A/C system to fail. Your A/C’s performance could be the difference between an amazing drive through the country and a miserable, in unison, “Ugh! Are we there yet?!”

If you notice that your air conditioner is blowing warm air for more than a few minutes after you start the car, there could be a leak in the system. Adding refrigerant can sometimes serve as a temporary fix for your summer car problem, but AutoTrader suggests investing in a proper A/C repair if you can find room in your budget.

Unfortunately, a malfunctioning A/C system can impact more than just your sweat glands. In many cars, the serpentine belt that helps power the A/C also provides power to other parts of the car, like the water pump that helps cool your engine (i.e., your engine could overheat if it’s not functioning!). This means that a malfunctioning car A/C could be a symptom of a more severe issue.

A Dead Battery

Extreme heat can wreak havoc on your battery, too. Since hot summer temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, a dead or malfunctioning battery is one of the most common car problems on road trips. Need a few tips on keeping your battery in tip-top shape? Car and Driver recommends that you:

  • Have your electrical system checked to make sure it’s charging at the correct rate.
  • Don’t let dirt become an energy conductor; keep the top of your battery clean.
  • Check your battery often, and add distilled water if necessary to keep it properly cooled.

When the whole family is anxious to get to your sunny destination, the last thing you need is a forced stop to replace a dead battery. Let’s keep you on the road to your summer adventures!

Tire Troubles

Air expands and contracts with changes in temperature so it’s no surprise that the heat of summer has an impact on your tires. They’re filled with air! Heat, coupled with a long road trip, can cause your tire pressure to fluctuate outside of the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure—the rule of law when it comes to your tires.

Over- or under-inflated tires can wear unevenly, compromise your gas mileage, and reduce your car’s maneuverability, all of which is risky whether you’re experiencing a wind chill or checking on the heat index.

Fluid Issues

You do your best to keep your body hydrated during a heat wave, but what about your car? It’s “thirsty” too! The summer heat is no joke when it comes to drying out a car’s essential fluids.

Think engine fluids are not that essential? Think again! Low levels of brake fluid can compromise your stopping capacity, and low or contaminated engine oil can lead to engine failure.

Additionally, according to AutoTrader, engine coolant is the number one thing motorists should stay on top of in the summer months. Low levels of engine coolant can lead to engine cut-off. Engine cut-off is a modern car’s failsafe against being driven past the point of no return. Vehicles that don’t have an engine-cutoff function will continue to run to the point of severe or unfixable engine failure.

How to Prevent Common Car Problems on Road Trips

When it comes to staying ahead of common car problems on road trips, proactive maintenance is the name of the game.

Get an A/C Check or Service

Do your passengers a favor. Make sure that your next ride isn’t a sweaty one. Find a free car A/C check near you or get an A/C service quote from the mobile mechanics at Your Mechanic before you get beat by the heat of summer car issues.

Check & Replace Your Car Battery

Getting cut off by a dead phone is okay. Getting stranded by a dead car battery in the middle of nowhere, is nowhere near okay—especially when there are pouty passengers involved!

To help prevent a dead battery, get a free battery test before you head out on your next road trip. Then, replace the battery if it’s on it’s last leg. Many auto repair shops offer courtesy checks on batteries (Firestone Complete Auto Care and Autozone, to name a couple). If you can’t find one of those near you, a quick online search for “free battery checks near me” should return a few options.

And if your battery does decide to throw a fit, remember the right way to jumpstart your battery (and don’t forget to pack the jumper cables).

Inspect & Inflate Tires

To avoid a summertime tire issue like over- or under-inflation, get a tire pressure gauge and check your tires (and spare tire) every few weeks and at every other gas stop during long road trips. They should be at the manufacturer recommended tire pressure. This information can usually be found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. Don’t feel like getting your hands dirty? Shops like Pep Boys and Discount Tire will check your tire pressure for free! While you’re inflating your tires, look for tire damage and wear that could lead to a flat tire down the road.

Monitor & Top Off Essential Fluids

We don’t need to remind you what could go wrong if you don’t change your engine oil or check your brake fluid, but we will remind you to top off your car’s fluids! Keep a close watch on your brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine oil, power steering fluid, and even windshield wiper fluid.

And did you know? Some quick oil change places, like Jiffy Lube and Take 5 Oil Change, provide customers with free top-offs on many vital fluids.

Stay Cool with Roadside Assistance from Direct

Worried about the heat ruining your road trip? Don’t sweat it! With these tips, you and your car can be cruisin’ in comfort. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’re stranded, though, Direct Auto’s Roadside Assistance plan could be there to help. As a member, you have access to 24-hour emergency towing, battery jumpstarts, essential fluid delivery, and more.

Give us a call at 1-877-GO-DIRECT or stop by one of our many locations to see how affordable your Roadside Assistance plan could be! Plus, when the time comes, using your plan is oh-so-easy! See?