Driving in Extreme Heat: A Survival Guide for Your Car and You

Extreme heat can be as brutal on your vehicle as it is on you. When the mercury climbs, driving can become a challenge that demands attention to detail to prevent you and your car from overheating. Take a look at some essential tips to keep both your engine and yourself cool under the sun’s scorching rays.

1. Keep Your Engine Cool

Maintain your radiator and ensure your coolant is topped up and fresh. An engine overheating can leave you stranded, so check hoses for cracks or leaks and consider carrying extra coolant in your trunk.

2. Check Tire Pressure Regularly

High temperatures can affect the air pressure in your tires, potentially leading to a blowout on hot asphalt. Check your tire pressure frequently, especially before long trips, and inflate them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

3. Use a Sunshade or Window Visor

When parked, use a sunshade to keep your car’s interior temperature lower. This makes a huge difference in the comfort of your vehicle when you return and helps protect your dashboard from sun damage.

4. Park in the Shade Whenever Possible

Whenever you have the option, park in the shade. This will not only keep the interior temperature down but also reduce the strain on your air conditioning system when you start the car.

5. Stay Hydrated

Carry plenty of water on your trips. Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining your focus and health during heat waves, and in case of a breakdown, you’ll need water to avoid heatstroke.

6. Use Your Air Conditioning Wisely

Start your drive with open windows to push out the hot air, and then turn on the AC. Ensure your AC is serviced and in working order before the onset of summer.

7. Inspect Belts and Hoses

Heat can weaken the belts and hoses that play a crucial role in your car’s cooling system. Have them inspected by a professional and replaced if they show signs of wear.

8. Prepare for Glare

Harsh sunlight can lead to dangerous glare while driving. Keep sunglasses in your car and use your visor to help block some of the direct light.

9. Avoid Rush Hour

If possible, try to avoid driving during the hottest parts of the day, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you can’t avoid it, be sure to plan for potential heavy traffic which could extend your time in the heat.

10. Keep Your Skin Protected

Apply a high-SPF sunscreen before driving to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, even if you’re in the car. Sunlight can penetrate windows and sunroofs, increasing the risk of skin damage.

11. Dress Appropriately

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing to help maintain your body temperature. Avoid dark colors that can absorb heat and make you feel warmer.

12. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Have an emergency kit ready in your car, including water, non-perishable snacks, a first-aid kit, and a charged cellphone. It’s also wise to know the locations of rest stops or service areas along your route.

13. Check Your Battery

Car batteries can fail in extreme heat, so ensure your battery’s fluid levels are correct and that the terminals are clean and secure.

14. Consider Window Tinting

Window tinting can significantly reduce interior temperatures and provide UV protection. Check the legal tinting limits for your state before proceeding.

15. Maintain a Stable Speed

Try to maintain a consistent speed to keep airflow consistent through the radiator, and avoid pushing your car to its limits, as high-speed driving can raise engine temperatures.

Remember, preparation is key to surviving the scorch of summer roads. By maintaining your vehicle and being mindful of these tips, you’ll ensure both you and your car stay cool, even when the heat is on.