This content is provided courtesy of USAA.
Hot outdoor temperatures increase the chances of your engine overheating. This is especially true when you’re stuck in traffic (when airflow can’t help cool the engine) or driving uphill (when the engine is working extra hard).
To prevent problems:
• Occasionally check and refill your engine coolant reservoir to the full line.
• Keep an eye on the dashboard temperature gauge. If it passes the midpoint or if you see steam coming from underneath the hood, it’s time to pull over. Continuing to drive an overheated vehicle can severely damage the engine.
• Once you’re in a safe spot, turn off the car and call roadside assistance or your emergency auto club to have your car towed to a service station.
If you check the engine yourself:
• Don’t open the hood until the car has completely cooled.
• Check the engine coolant reservoir and add coolant if necessary. Water will work in an emergency. The reservoir is usually a plastic container with a plastic cap. If you’re not sure, your owner’s manual can help you find it.
• After you’ve taken care of the problem, continue driving, but stop and have the car serviced if it overheats again.
WARNING: While it’s possible to add coolant directly to the radiator, never remove the radiator cap before the engine has cooled for several hours, unless you are a trained mechanic. A hot radiator can release blasts of scalding steam.
Reel in the Road Rage
Engines aren’t the only things that overheat. To avoid heated conflicts with other drivers, the U.S. Department of Transportation offers the following advice if you feel threatened by another driver:
• Don’t react. Try to avoid making eye contact, which could be viewed as confrontational.
• Move your car away from the other vehicle in a calm and controlled manner.
• Lock your doors.
• If you think you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or busy location to get help.
To prevent your own case of road rage, take steps to avoid stress while driving, such as allowing more time for your trip, not taking another driver’s actions personally and not driving when you’re already angry.
Monthly Reminder: Service the Air Conditioner
The Car Care Council recommends having your heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC unit, inspected once a year to check for required levels of refrigerant, leaks and worn or faulty belts. Get your air conditioner serviced immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
• Excessive water under the engine. Minor drips may be due to normal condensation.
• Wet carpets. Auto air conditioners are built with a drain that gets rid of water below the vehicle. If the drain gets clogged, you may end up with wet carpets.
• A musty smell coming from your car’s air vents.
• Strange sounds (squealing, buzzing, knocking, etc.) coming from the air-conditioner unit.