This summer, you should be heading out on a road trip—not stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow. Those same temperatures that can make your road trip so much fun can also cause your car to break down—unless you take a few simple steps to combat the problems that cause some of the most common summer car problems (and breakdowns).
Believe it or not, the heat of our Wisconsin summers is actually harder on our car batteries than the winter. The heat and humidity of our Midwestern summers can cause battery fluid to evaporate and damage the internal parts of your battery.
How to prevent this problem: know the age of your car battery, and the signs of a failing car battery. Most car batteries need to be replaced every 3-5 years. If you have to charge your battery randomly or your car is consistently starting rough, make an appointment to replace your battery before you head out on your road trip.
The cause of this problem is two-fold, so stop solely blaming summer’s hot temperatures. The other cause is a faulty cooling system, making your car work harder to maintain a healthy temperature. If the warning light comes on or there’s steam coming out from under (not above) your hood, the problem is serious. Pull over and call your local repair shop immediately.
How to prevent this problem: check your fluids regularly, or have your mechanic check them at every oil change. Don’t miss an oil change, and check under your car randomly to see if your car is leaking (beyond the regular dripping from your AC, that’s normal). If you do have a leak, use this guide to pinpoint the kind of fluid. Use that information to make an appointment with your mechanic and get the problem fixed and prevent overheating.
Summer is hard on tires. Hot roads can make your tires flex more, and can add stress to tires that are filled to the maximum air pressure. In addition, road construction can add to the amount of debris left on roads, leaving drivers stranded with a flat.
How to prevent this problem: know the right tire pressure for your car (hint: the correct number is not on the tire) and check it regularly (directions can be found here). If you happen to roll over a random nail or piece of metal, follow these steps for replacing your flat tire. Don’t automatically dispose of the damaged tire; make an appointment. Your mechanic may be able to make a repair and get you more miles out of that tire (on your summer road trip!).