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Hot Weather Driving: Tips for Staying Safe & Comfortable

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Driving in hot weather can be challenging for both you and your car. High temperatures can affect your car’s performance, reliability, and comfort. You may wonder if it’s a bad idea to drive when the mercury tops 90 degrees or more and what you can do to prevent any problems. Keep reading as the experts from Altra Insurance Services, the premier providers of car insurance San Diego drivers trust for exceptional service, answer some common questions about driving in hot weather and offer several tips to keep your car and yourself cool.

How Does Hot Weather Affect a Car?

Hot weather can have various effects on a car, depending on the condition of the vehicle and the duration of the trip. Some of the possible effects are:

  • Overheating – A car’s engine generates a lot of heat, which needs to be dissipated by the cooling system. If the cooling system isn’t working properly, or if the outside temperature is too high, the engine may overheat and cause damage to the components. According to, the normal operating temperature of a car engine is 195 to 220°F. If the temperature gauge goes above this range, you should pull over and let the engine cool down.
  • Battery failure – A car’s battery is also sensitive to heat, which can reduce its life span and performance. Heat can cause the battery fluid to evaporate, which can lead to corrosion and internal damage. According to AAA, a battery that lasts three years in a moderate climate may only last two years in a hot climate. You should check your battery regularly and replace it if it shows signs of wear or leakage.
  • Tire blowout – A car’s tires are also affected by heat, which can increase the air pressure inside them. If the tires are overinflated, underinflated, or worn out, they may be more prone to blowouts or punctures. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire-related crashes are more likely to occur in summer than in winter. You should check your tire pressure and condition before every trip and adjust them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Fluid loss – A car’s fluids, such as oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid, are essential for lubricating, cooling, and cleaning the various parts of the car. Heat can cause these fluids to evaporate faster or leak from damaged hoses or seals. This can lead to reduced performance, increased wear and tear, and potential failures. You should check your fluid levels regularly and top them up or change them as needed.

How Can You Keep Your Car Cool?

To prevent or minimize the effects of hot weather on your car, you should follow these tips:

  • Park in the shade – If possible, park your car in a shaded area or use a sunshade or window cover to block the sunlight. This can reduce the interior temperature of your car by up to 40°F and prevent damage to the upholstery, dashboard, and electronics.
  • Use air conditioning – If you have air conditioning in your car, use it to cool down the cabin and increase your comfort. However, be aware that using air conditioning can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent. You can improve your gas mileage by driving at moderate speeds, avoiding sudden acceleration or braking, and keeping your windows closed.
  • Maintain your cooling system – Your cooling system is vital for preventing your engine from overheating. You should check the coolant level and condition regularly and flush and refill it every two years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also inspect the radiator, hoses, belts, and fans for any leaks, cracks, or damage.
  • Service your car regularly – To keep your car in good shape and avoid any problems in hot weather, you should follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle. You should change your oil and filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also replace your air filter, spark plugs, wires, and other components as needed.

How Can You Stay Cool while Driving?

Driving in hot weather can also affect your health and safety. High temperatures can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or fatigue. To stay cool while driving, you should follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water – You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day or more if you’re sweating a lot. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or sugary drinks that can dehydrate you further. You should also keep a bottle of water in your car and sip it frequently.
  • Wear light clothing – Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. You should also wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Take breaks – Avoid driving for long periods without stopping or resting. Take frequent breaks every 2 hours or 100 miles and get out of the car to stretch and cool down. You should also avoid driving during the hottest hours of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek medical attention – If you experience any symptoms of heat-related illness, such as dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion, or fainting, you should stop driving and seek medical attention immediately. Heat-related illness can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Driving in extremely hot weather isn’t necessarily bad for your car or yourself as long as you take proper precautions and care for your vehicle and your health. By following the tips discussed above, you can enjoy your summer road trips without any worries.

Being cautious while you’re driving in extreme heat may reduce the risks of unwanted incidents caused by issues such as a blown tire or heat-related dizziness, but in the event you do have an accident, it’s important to have adequate car insurance. Chula Vista vehicle owners can reach out to Altra Insurance Services for affordable insurance coverage. Give us a call at (619) 404-6311 to receive a complimentary quote.

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