June 3, 2014

Five Oklahoma Summer Auto Care Tips from The KEY

Five Oklahoma Summer Auto Care Tips from The KEY

The weather in Oklahoma is quickly getting hotter, and you’ve likely already turned on your A/C in your home and changed out your wardrobe for shorts and tees. We’re very aware of how the heat makes us feel – but many people don’t think about the way it makes their car feel. High temperatures and heavy sun can actually cause several common car problems, but you can make short work of them with some simple preventative maintenance.

Tip 1: Check Your Fluids!

When it’s hot outside, the most common thing we hear is to stay hydrated and keep ourselves cool. The same rules go for your car: without enough fluids, your vehicle can easily overheat and sustain major damage.

On average, most car engines operate somewhere between 190 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. They maintain these temperatures with coolants and other fluids that move heat from the engine to the radiator, where moving air cools the fluid down. However, if your engine doesn’t have enough coolant or oil, it can’t properly move heat away from the engine, and this can cause big problems. At the least your engine might overheat, but it can also seize up or even crack the engine block.

On the plus side, coolant and oil levels are easy to check. For coolant, simply look at the reservoir under your hood that is filled with an orange or gold-colored fluid, and check its level against the marks on the tank. For oil, pull out the dipstick and look at the markings on it versus the oil level. You can also take a look at our previous blog on how to check and change your oil for more information.

Tip 2: Don’t Drive Aggressively

Whether you’re on the highway or simply driving through town, aggressive driving can really take its toll on your car. It’s hard on the engine, suspension, tires and brakes, and all of these parts are more susceptible to wear and tear when it’s hot outside.

When you’re on the highway, do what you can to avoid hard acceleration and braking. The best way to do this is to keep your RPM’s below or close to the 3,000 mark and to increase your follow distance from the car ahead of you. In town, accelerate a little slower and slow down more for turns. This will place less stress on your car and help it deal with the heat better.

Tip 3: Park Under Cover

We don’t usually think of the sun as a destructive force, but it can be ruinous for your car. UV rays can fade your paint and plastic, and we’re all familiar with climbing into the car on a hot day and nearly scalding ourselves on the seatbelt or steering wheel. When parked outside, a car left for 90 minutes on a normal 90-degree summer day in Oklahoma can reach inside temperatures of almost 140 degrees – hot enough to cause second degree burns in just seconds.

The solution? Simple: keep your car out of the sun. By parking inside a garage or under some shade, you help protect your investment and yourself. If shade isn’t an option, you can prevent some heat buildup by getting a windshield sun blocker or by leaving your windows slightly cracked. Also remember to never leave pets or children in a car on a hot day, even for just a minute.

Tip 4: Check your Tires

One of the biggest effects of temperature on a car is on the tires, and more specifically on the air inside your tires. Hot roads and high temperatures can cause problems for your tires, especially if they aren’t rated for warmer weather.

High temperatures can cause two main issues for your tires. First, since warm air expands and takes up more space than cold air, warm tires might be firmer (and thus might face more wear) than cold tires. Also, the rubber that your tires are made of expands and gets softer in warm weather, affecting its level of traction and how fast it wears.

If you keep all-season or all-weather tires on your car year-round, these issues aren’t too major – though you should still check your tire pressure and make sure you have enough air. However, if you have winter tires on your car you should change them now, since they’re designed to be used in cold weather and have problems dealing with warmer temperatures (above about 50 degrees).

Tip 5: Charge Your A/C

One of the biggest problems cars face in the summer is a non-functional air conditioner. If you’ve ever been stuck in a hot car on a hotter day with no A/C, you know how miserable it can be. That’s why the beginning of summer is a great time to get your car’s A/C unit checked out, especially if you think it’s not cooling as well as it should be.

Most air conditioner problems are caused by a low level of coolant in the A/C unit. Fortunately this is a simple fix, though it could also indicate a bigger problem such as a coolant leak. If your air conditioner in your car isn’t performing as well as you’d like, take it to the shop and get it checked out before you need it.

Of course none of these tips will mean much to you if you don’t have a car. But if you come to The KEY in Oklahoma City, we can get you into a high-quality used car today with low or no money down, even if you have bad or no credit! Want to know more? Take our 2-minute pre-approval quiz to see what cars you’re eligible for, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for updates and special offers!