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8 Vehicle Maintenance and Safety Tips for Driving on Hot Summer Days

Posted in Car Accident on July 7, 2020

Summer heat is here and in full force in Nashville and the Middle Tennessee areas. Temperatures are soaring to well above 90 degrees most days. That combined with excess humidity can make being outside for more than brief periods of time uncomfortable and even dangerous.

But did you know that hot weather can affect your daily commute in more ways than just making you sweat on your way to your car or causing you to run your AC at full blast? Heat degrades everything over time, whether it’s your vehicle components or the roads that you drive on. And in the South, heat is relentless, especially in the summer months.

That’s why it’s important to keep these facts in mind as you drive around the mid-state area during the next few months:

  1. Keep your vehicle properly cooled—Just as you need to keep yourself cool in your vehicle’s interior on hot days, you also need to ensure that your vehicle’s components stay cool while it’s running. Heat is your engine’s worst enemy, and your engine bay reaches very high temperatures even on cold days. That’s why you should keep a close eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge and its coolant levels. Add coolant as necessary, and if your vehicle begins to overheat, pull over immediately to avoid serious engine damage.
  2. Watch out for heat’s effects on your tires—When you drive, your tires heat up, even when the temperature outside is freezing. That’s because tires generate friction as they contact the road. Road surfaces can be much hotter than the ambient air temperature, which means tires can become dangerously hot during summer months. If your tires are underinflated, already damaged, or heavily worn, you may be at a higher risk of a blowout during the summer. Inspect your tires regularly for signs of damage and proper inflation before driving.
  3. Check rubber and plastic parts under your hood—Even if your vehicle is properly cooled, many other parts are still susceptible to extreme heat. Anything rubber and plastic can be heavily damaged by heat, especially if your vehicle is more than a decade old. When things like belts and hoses fail, you may lose your air conditioning, or your vehicle may fail to start. Open your hood at least once per summer and use a flashlight to look for signs of damage on any rubber or plastic parts.
  4. Inspect your battery—Batteries are prone to corrosion and leaks, especially when exposed to high heat. When that happens, they can become unreliable, as battery fluids can cause its connection with your vehicle’s electrical system to become loose. In a worst-case scenario, your battery may even fail when you’re away from home, leaving you stranded and in need of a tow truck or expensive on-site repair. To avoid this problem, check your battery while you check other parts under your hood. Look for signs of corrosion or loose connections. If your locks, windows, lights, radio, or other electrical parts turn off for no reason, it may be a sign your battery is damaged or failing.
  5. Don’t drive long distances without AC on very hot days—The human body is better able to withstand hot climates than cold. And while driving around with no AC when it’s 85 degrees out is uncomfortable and means rolling down your windows, doing the same when it’s 95 and above can be dangerous—especially if you are sensitive to heat. Heat stroke can happen quickly and without warning, and the interiors of vehicles can become extremely hot. If you need to drive and don’t have working AC, do so early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are more tolerable.
  6. Never leave pets or kids behind—Hot cars can be a danger to pets and children at any time of year, but they’re especially deadly during the summer months. It only takes around 10 minutes for a vehicle’s interior to increase in temperature by 20 degrees when it isn’t air conditioned. Small children can die when their body temperatures reach 104 degrees. In addition, children experience increases in body temperature three to five times faster than adults. That means they’re incredibly susceptible to hot car deaths, even when they are left behind for only a few minutes. Pets are also vulnerable in hot cars.
  7. Keep an emergency kit in case you breakdown—Being stranded due to a vehicle failure is inconvenient and stressful, but on very hot summer days, it can also be dangerous. Whether you have to wait a long time for help to arrive, or you have to walk to get help, the summer heat can put you at risk. Keeping water, non-perishable food items, a cell phone charger, and even a first aid kit can help you deal with this type of emergency situation during the hottest days of the year.
  8. Be aware of road rage risks—Hot weather can result in short tempers and angry outbursts, especially when people are behind the wheel. To reduce your risks of being the victim of a road rage-afflicted driver or even experiencing it yourself, leave early to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Avoid using your horn to communicate with other drivers unless necessary, and don’t engage with drivers who are acting aggressively or recklessly.

Matt Hardin Law Is Here to Help After Crashes Year-Round

August and September are the most dangerous months to drive based on the number of crashes on American roadways. The heat plays a role in that, as does more vehicles being on the road due to family vacations, road trips, and holiday weekends. Our Nashville auto accident lawyers are ready to give your family the legal representation you need if you’re injured in a crash this summer or any other time of year.

We know that you’re facing expensive medical bills and lost wages, and we’ll fight to you every penny you deserve. Don’t let the insurance company unfairly deny your claim or give you a “lowball” settlement. Get an experienced and trusted law firm on your side today—get Matt Hardin Law. Call us today for a free consultation.