| Car Life
a mother and child sit stranded beside their broken down car in a field

Every car deserves its day in the sun! Or does it? Could soaring temperatures lead to 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 in warm weather 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 road trip across the country and a miserable, in unison, “Ugh! Are we there yet?!”

If you notice that your air conditioner is blowing warm air, smelly air, or no air for more than a few minutes after you start the car, there could be a problem with the A/C system. The problem could be as simple as topping off the coolant, but unfortunately, a malfunctioning A/C system could be a sign of larger problems. For example, the serpentine belt helps keep your A/C system (as well as the alternator and power steering pump) running properly, according to Firestone. So, if you have any A/C issues, make sure to address them quickly. You don’t want to be forced to fix a larger and more expensive problem at a later date.

A Dead Battery

Extreme heat can wreak havoc on your battery, too. Hot summer temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, according to the Car Care Council, and a dead or malfunctioning battery is one of the most common car problems drivers encounter. Need a few tips on keeping your battery in tip-top shape? The Car Care Council advises you:

  • Have your electrical system checked to make sure it’s charging at the correct rate.
  • Don’t let dirt become an energy conductor by keeping the top of your battery clean.
  • Top off your battery (if necessary) with distilled water, particularly as it gets hotter

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.

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 are risky whether you’re experiencing a wind chill or checking on the heat index. Consider purchasing a tire gauge and learning how to check tire pressure so you can make any necessary adjustments on the go.

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 and find a free car A/C check near you. This should ensure everything’s working properly.

Check & Replace Your Car Battery

Getting stranded by a dead car battery in the middle of nowhere is never ideal, especially when there are other 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, so a quick search for “free battery checks near me” should return a few options.

And just to be safe, keep jumper cables (along with these items) in your car year-round and learn how to jump-start your ride.

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’s 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. 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 offer customers free top-offs on many vital fluids. Run a quick search to find one near you.

Stay Cool with Roadside Assistance from Direct

Worried about the heat ruining your summer plans? Don’t sweat it! With these tips, you and your car can be cruising 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!