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Between warm temperatures and school vacations, summer is a time when many families use their cars for road trips and other fun adventures. However, summer conditions also put some auto parts at a higher risk of failure. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the warmer months.
Ambient heat increases the operating temperature of your vehicle engine. A well-maintained cooling system is essential to keeping a car's engine running safely and efficiently. If the cooling system fails, it often results in costly repairs.
Usually, low and high marks on the side of the plastic overflow bottle that connects to the cooling system will tell you if there is enough coolant in the engine. The coolant level should be between the two marks.
If your vehicle has a coolant expansion tank, then you can remove the cap and add coolant mixture if necessary. If the expansion tank doesn't have a cap, or if your car doesn't have this tank at all, you'll have to remove the radiator cap and check the coolant level there. To remove it properly, pressure to be released.
If the expansion tank doesn't have a removable cap- or your vehicle doesn't have an expansion tank at all - the radiator cap must be removed to check the coolant level. To safely remove the cap, press down and turn to the safety stop until any pressure is released. Then, remove the cap completely.
To check your hoses, just squeeze them. The hose should not collapse easily. You will need to replace any soft, rotten or swollen hose. All connections should be checked to ensure they are tight.
When checking the hoses, pay attention to where the hoses connect to the engine and radiator. Look for puddles or any signs of leaks. Sometimes simply tightening the clamp will stop the leak there, but if it persists, then there is a bigger problem and the system needs to be serviced.
Determine if your radiator fan is manual or electric. The manual radiator fan is bolted to the water pump and runs off the same belt as the water pump. Electric radiators have wires that connect them to the car's electrical system.
To check the electric radiator fan, start the car and bring it to a temperature where the fan will normally start.
Test if there is power to the wires by use the volt meter. Connect one end of the voltmeter to ground and the other end to the electrical connection on the fan. The voltmeter will then give you a voltage reading.
Normal voltage for the radiator fan is around 12 volts. If the voltmeter reads 12 volts, the problem is not the power and the fan needs to be replaced.
If the voltmeter shows no power, check the fuse.
For manual radiator fans, conduct a visual inspection first. Make sure the four bolts securing the radiator fan are tight. Make sure the belt is in good condition and under tension.
Some manual radiator fans with a fan clutch. There is a spring inside the fan clutch that helps the fan spin faster. If your radiator fan has a fan clutch, check the radiator fan while the motor is running. The radiator fan should be running at more RPMs than the motor. If not, the fan clutch is broken and needs to be replaced.
Some radiator fans are solid mount and do not have a fan clutch. If your radiator fan is securely installed and the fan is not working, your belt is broken and needs to be replaced.
Even if your vehicle has an electric fan, there is still a belt that powers the water pump. The water pump is a critical component of any vehicle cooling system. The pump is mounted on the front of the engine and the pulley is attached to the shaft. The belt drives the pulley, which rotates the internal impeller, which circulates the coolant through the system.
Check the drive belt or single serpentine belt for any signs of cracks, chips, etc. Replace the belt if it shows any signs of excessive wear or aging.
Keeping the cooling system in top condition will ensure a longer lifespan for your vehicle. It will also make sure you don't get stuck on the road with steam gushing out from under the hood.
Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of the vehicle, it can also cause the tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. The problem becomes even more when road temperatures are extremely high.
According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, more than half of vehicles on the road were found to have at least one under-inflated tire, and 85 percent of motorists did not know how to properly inflate their tire.
When the car has not been driven recently, the tires should be checked and should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number molded into the tire’s sidewall. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner's manual or on a sticker usually located on the driver's door frame. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires.
Increased temperature has a direct effect on tire pressure. Therefore, you should check tire pressure levels regularly during the warmer months to avoid excessive wear or a blowout. When checking tire pressure, including the spare, drivers should also check for adequate tread depth and for any signs of uneven wear that could indicate suspension or alignment issues. Follow the guidelines for tire rotation and alignment in your owner's manual to further extend tire life. If you've been using winter tires, switch to summer or all-season tires.
No one wants their car's air conditioner to stop working in the middle of summer. However, there are several issues that can cripple your system, from a broken blower motor to fluid leaks. Identifying the faulty component and getting replacement parts or scheduling repairs will get the system working again. You can avoid problems by checking the air conditioner at the beginning of the season.
Most drivers believe that battery problems mainly occur in winter, but the high temperature in summer has a negative impact on the car battery even more than the cold in winter. Heat and vibration are the two worst enemies of batteries, causing internal and eventual failure. While drivers can't do much about the heat, they can make sure the battery is securely in place to minimize vibration.
Another potential summer problem is that battery fluid evaporates faster, causing corrosion of terminals and connections. Clean the battery terminals and cable clips of any corrosion, and make sure the clamps are tight enough that they won't move.
If your car's battery is more than three years old, it's best to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how long it will last.