5 Common Car Breakdown Problems in Hot Weather & How To Avoid Them

What does hot weather do to your car?

Summers are great times for families as they tend to spend more time together since kids are on holiday and parents try to find time to spend with their kids while on holiday. Since this is the case, we tend to visit the beaches frequently with some of us traveling a lot during summertime. So, if you are planning to travel during summer time to spend the weekend in a summer cabin, or just spending your evenings out on the beach or anywhere nice, it is important to consider what this means to your car. Most of us put a lot of consideration into winter driving conditions and how cold weather affects the car’s performance, but tend to forget or ignore how the summer heat can also be detrimental to a car and its daily use. The heat, humidity, extended road trips and heated roads can be hostile to your car.

Although modern cars are built to withstand extreme temperature variations, their prolonged exposure to either sweltering or freezing conditions increases the potential to cause some problems. In the height of the summer, when cars are exposed to the extreme effects of the summer for long periods, the cars’ performance and safety are affected as well so it’s important for the cars to be protected from the hot weather by optimizing their use and maintain their upkeep to make sure that they don’t end up with serious breakdowns.

Let us take a brief look at what exactly the sweltering summer heat does to your car, and how best to manage its effects on the car. In this five points guide, we take a look at the impact of heat on cars, and what can be done about it.

5 common car breakdown problems

Battery

The battery, like many devices or materials, is susceptible to weather conditions as they affect its performance. During the winter, the cold weather puts a lot of pressure on the battery and so is the summer heat. Very hot weather has an effect on the chemical processes that occur within the car batteries, which may result in the batteries struggling to hold a charge and eventually produce enough power. The problem worsens when load increases with the use of things such as fans, the air conditioning system, power windows, and power roofs which may result in some batteries struggling from prolonged use in spells of hot weather.

If you are experiencing this or have ever experienced this, what you can do under such conditions is to service your car when the summer looms; this will help you solve all the existing problems that the car might be having and make sure that they are in good working order before the summer heat kicks in. You can also buy yourself a voltmeter and perform a DIY test to check the output power of your car’s battery or else go to a professional mechanic who can do it for you. Performing this test will give you a glimpse of the condition of your battery, and whether it needs to be replaced or charged. By doing this you are putting yourself on the safe side by avoiding any problems going forward. As a preventive measure, it is also advisable to keep a set of jump leads in your car, as they can be handy when you encounter a battery problem.

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Tires

Tires are made of some rubber material that doesn’t get along well with hot temperatures, but also these materials do wear out after prolonged use. 

When the road gets hot and you drive over long distances the heat has a tendency of expanding the air within the tire which eventually results in the tire overinflating. This overinflation can result in a tire burst (blowout) which is not a very good experience and if it occurs at high speeds can even result in an accident.

To prevent this from occurring you have to have a habit of checking tire pressure frequently, mostly during the summer as records show that most tire breakdowns occur during the summer.

Checking tire pressure is very simple, it doesn’t require a professional to do that, all you need to do is buy a tire pressure gauge from auto part stores or tools shops and you are good to go.

For comfort, proper vehicle function, and fuel efficiency proper tire PSI must be observed. The recommended tire pressure by car manufacturers’ for small/compact and midsize cars falls between 30 and 40 PSI, while crossovers, SUVs and pickups with larger tires, have a higher pressure that falls between 40 and 45 PSI. To learn of the recommended tire pressure for your car you can check on a sticker that is usually located on the driver’s side door frame or check in your owner’s manual.

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Coolant

Car’s have an autonomous cooling system whose primary function is to maintain an optimum engine running temperature to keep the engine running. During winter and summer, the car’s cooling systems work at full stretch to be able to maintain the optimum engine operating temperature.

For the cooling system to be able to accomplish this it relies on coolant/antifreeze that is filled in the system to keep all parts of the engine within the operating temperature. On a hot summer day, the coolant runs around the engine in order to cool the engine, but when the temperature is very high, some parts of the engine may overheat and break down.

To prevent this from happening always check your system to make sure that it is filled up to the desired levels with high-quality coolant/antifreeze.

You can also check the protection level of the existing coolant/antifreeze in the system by using a coolant tester. This will help you understand the concentration level of coolant/antifreeze within the system, and help you know if the engine is safe or not.

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Oil

The parts of the engine need proper lubrication whenever they are running, and as the engine gets hot the oil tends to thin a bit due to the high temperature, and this is worse during the summer. When this occurs, it might result in some parts of the engine not getting the required protection and hence result in increased friction which may result in engine damage.

To prevent the engine from getting damaged make sure you change your car’s oil at the recommended intervals, but during the summer you can even consider replacing it much earlier with the oil weight that is recommended in the owner’s manual. Make sure it’s filled to the maximum level to be sure that the engine is well protected even in the most extreme temperatures.

Air Conditioning

During the summer the use of the car’s air conditioning system is always at an all-time high. The thing is if you do not take proper care of your A/C by having it serviced chances are that it won’t be able to cool your cars’ cabin when the summer heat looms.

Air conditioners need to be serviced regularly for them to function properly. Some parts of the A/C system can be clogged and require some cleaning, and the air filter might need to be replaced for better air filtration, and the compressor belt has to be checked and changed if need be, plus checking if there is any gas leakage from the system. All this work requires a professional to check, so check in at a mechanic shop and request for a system check in order to be safe during the sweltering summer heat while in your car.

What To Do To Prevent Car Breakdowns?

Many car owners/users do not follow the proper car handling procedures as advised by car manufactures, whereby it is a requirement that you regularly take the car for maintenance. And this is more so during the summer as breakdowns are more common during this period of the year. If you follow this routine, then you’ll be able to prevent the car from unnecessary breakdowns. Do not do this only when your car has broken down, but also periodically. 

Sometimes breakdowns are unavoidable during the summer. If they occur, make sure you immediately repair the fault to keep your car in good shape.

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Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya

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