If you find that you usually have car problems in the winter, the culprit may not be the cold. Damage to your car’s internal parts from summer heat can worsen over the fall and lead to problems in winter, such as a failing car battery.
When you park your car in the sun during the summer, you’re exposing delicate machinery to extreme temperatures. The body of a car traps heat for internal temperatures of 170 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This can cause problems across multiple areas of your vehicle.
Your car’s battery is essentially a box containing volatile fluids for chemical reactions. Extreme heat can cause the fluid inside your battery to evaporate. When the battery attempts to start your car without enough fluid, its components become damaged.
Keeping your car out of the direct sun when you park can help protect your battery. Keeping the charge topped off extends battery life as well. If you’re not sure if your battery has been damaged from the heat, here are some signs to look out for:
- A bulging or cracked battery case
- A sulfur or rotten egg smell when you open the lid from leaking fluid
- Residue around the battery ports
- Dim headlights, sluggish windshield wipers, trouble starting, or other signs that your car’s systems aren’t getting enough power
A failed battery can leave you stranded on the side of the road, so make sure to test your battery regularly and replace it every four to five years.
Summer road trips can put more wear on your car than the mileage might suggest. If you’ve driven through deserts or dusty terrain wondering do cars have air filters, there’s a good chance your filters need changing.
Engines need to pull in fresh air from outside for the combustion reaction that powers the car. Many engine components can be eaten away by a constant flow of dust, dirt, and sand. Air filters form a barrier that keeps your engine safe, but they don’t work if they’re full of dust and debris. Pick up an inexpensive air filter and swap it out at the end of summer.
Engine Cooling Problems
The oil in your engine circulates through to protect components from friction and heat damage. In the summer, this oil can thin out and become less effective. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your oil changes in the summer months.
Keep an eye on your coolant levels, as well. Besides changing your general engine oil, change your gearbox oil and brake fluid.
Rubber engine rings or components can melt in extreme temperatures. Plastic cases can also warp and crack. Open your hood at the end of summer and scan for any misshapen engine parts that need replacing. To find out which parts will fit in your vehicle, use a VIN lookup tool.
Summer heat can damage your car just as much as winter chill, although the effects may take longer to appear. Park in the shade when possible and perform a thorough check of your engine at the end of summer.