Spring has broken, the snow has melted and the sun is shining bright. It won't be very long before soaring summertime temps beckon drivers out on the roadway, whether heading to the beach to cool off or out and about on their errands. Summer sees more traffic on the roads than any other season, but it can also pose some serious threats to your car and even your health. Here are some important summer car safety tips to ensure that you, your family and your vehicle make it safely through the season.
Ever sit down in a car only to feel the skin on the back of your thighs immediately blister from the heat? Most of us have. Shade is important during the summer. Park in the shade whenever possible (this might require some creative planning when parking at the store, or cleaning out that garage). You can also help block the heat by investing in a sunshade for your windshield. They're simple to use and not terribly expensive. The reflective varieties do a better job of blocking heat, but any shades will provide some benefit.
Prepare to Be Sidelined
Summer time sees massive amounts of traffic on the road, but it also sees the highest number of breakdowns during the year. The most common cause of being sidelined while driving during the summer is overheating (usually because the coolant is low, or a radiator hose blew). What this means for you is that you need to be prepared should you find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Always carry emergency supplies in your car. You should have:
- Bottled water
- A first aid kit
- A change of cool clothing (shorts and a t-shirt, for instance)
- A charger and cell phone (if you don't already have these)
- A manual fan (battery-powered portable fans are fine so long as the batteries are fresh)
Summertime temps do a real number on your engine, and in order to get you safely from point A to point B, your car needs to be in good shape. Invest in some basic maintenance before the summer hits in earnest. Make sure to have your oil changed, and the air filter checked and changed if necessary. You should also have the radiator, coolant and radiator hoses inspected. If the coolant level is low, have it topped off and check for any leaks.
Planning for a Trip
If you're one of the millions of people hitting the road for a summer vacation, the advice above goes doubly. Make sure you take your car for service and have it inspected for a trip. A trip inspection often includes things that may or may not be looked at during routine maintenance. If necessary, ask the mechanic what's included in their trip inspection. It should at least include:
- Coolant and cooling system check
- Brake check
- Oil leak check
- Tire condition check
- Tire pressure check
- Suspension system check
Check the A/C
Your car's A/C is responsible for keeping the interior at a survivable temperature during the summer. If you notice that it's not doing such a great job cooling the air, it's time for an inspection. Generally, all that's required is a quick system recharge with coolant, but there could be a deeper problem causing the issue. Without a functional air conditioner, the road can be a dangerous place during the summer as temperatures climb to lethal levels.
These basic tips will help keep you, your family and your car safe this summer no matter whether you're headed to the beach or just driving the daily commute.
Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore.com, a company selling auto mats throughout the nation. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on logo, carpeted, molded and all weather floor mats.