Summer Driving Tips
This summer, give your car a good once over before heading out in the summer heat!
As the weather warms in Ontario, drivers need to take a look at their automobiles to make sure they are in excellent summer driving condition. This means going beyond checking the cooling system and making sure the air conditioner works for the driver and passengers. A good, thorough top to bottom engine check is needed to make sure a car owner is driving their vehicle and not watching it blow steam from the side of the roadway.
The cooling system is made up of coolant, the radiator, cooling fan, hoses and belts, water pump and heater core. Each of these items needs to be checked for leaks or other damage. One example is to check the radiator core for rot after a long winter of driving on salted roads. If left alone long enough in the heat, this rot will continue through the core piping and cause the coolant to leak out and the engine to overheat.
Every car's radiator should contain antifreeze, even in the long hot summer months. This is because antifreeze is full of corrosion inhibitors, and, antifreeze has a higher boiling point than water which means it will keep the car's engine cooler longer than water.
It is extremely important that your vehicles tires have the correct air pressure in them at all times, especially when they are running on hot pavement. To find what the recommended tire pressure for your particular vehicle is to look inside the driver's side door, the owners manual or the inside of the glove-box. In these places will be a sticker that has the maximum tire pressure and the recommended tire pressure - note you always want to fill the tires to the recommended tire pressure, not the maximum tire pressure.
In addition to proper tire pressure, make sure the tread is in good shape. Many of the newer tires have a sort of 'sign' that indicates when a tire's tread is wearing too thin. If your tires do not have these indicators, the penny trick is the best way to tell if there is enough tread on the tires. Turn a penny upside down so that Abe Lincoln's head is inside the tire tread. If the tread is covering his head or reaches to the top of his hair, this is acceptable. If it is any lower than Abe's head, it's time to purchase new tires.
Be sure to get an oil change at the end of spring. Engines need a lot of lubricant when it gets hot and old oil becomes sticky and doesn't help an engine as well as fresh, clean oil. Most car manufacturers recommend changing the oil each time the car passes 5,000 miles but if you are going to be doing a lot of driving this summer, change it before then.
Drive the speed limit. You may not get to your destination as fast, but you will save your engine a lot of heat.
This may sound mad but if you are getting a gauge reading of hot and it continues to rise, turn on the heat inside the car. This will help to divert some of the heat away from the engine and cool it a little. If the gauge needle continues to go into the red zone, stop driving the car and seek help.