Stay Safe, Stay Cool, Have Fun
It seems like just yesterday we were freezing under a gray sky, shovel in hand, digging our cars out of their snowy prisons. We survived another winter and spring, and the surefire signs of summer are all around us.
Most people drive longer distances and more frequently in the summer. So before you pack up the kids, bikes, sunscreen, and Fido for a trip to the campground or the beach, keep in mind that the rules of the road have changed for summertime.
Your Car Drives Fine, But It’s Running a Temperature
Never Leave Children or Pets Unattended
Even though you’ll only be gone a few moments, a few moments is all it takes for the temperature inside your vehicle to climb to extreme levels, creating a potentially deadly situation for children and pets.
According to a study by General Motors Canada, the temperature inside a previously air-conditioned vehicle can exceed 122 degrees within 20 minutes on a 95-degree day. Within 40 minutes the temperature can climb to 150 degrees. And forget about leaving a window slightly open or “cracked”, that does little or nothing to prevent the temperature from skyrocketing, according to the study.
Even on relatively mild days, passenger compartment temperature can rise very quickly and overwhelm a child’s ability to control body temperature. Over 135 children have died in hot parked cars since 1996. The reason for this shockingly high number seems to be that parents are simply not aware of the risks. Remember that a car is no place for an unattended child, so when you stop for those quick errands unbuckle them, grab them and take them with you.
Don’t Hit the Boiling Point
Keeping Your Cooling System Cool
Did you know that a combustion engine is a very inefficient way to power a car? The typical automotive engine is wasteful because about one third of the fuel’s energy is converted to unwanted heat. This heat must be removed by the cooling system; otherwise it would melt your engine.
A 3.0-liter V6 engine pushing a 3,800-pound car down the highway at 60 miles per hour produces enough waste heat to heat a three-bedroom house comfortably in the dead of winter. So, unless you are driving an electric car, you are stuck with a combustion engine, and you have to keep it cool.
The best way to avoid becoming one of the unfortunates on the side of the road with steam billowing from the engine is preventive maintenance. Use this checklist to determine your vehicle’s summer-worthiness or get your cooling system inspected by a certified mechanic. (The following checks should be performed when your engine is cold.)
•The fan belt should be checked for cracks or glazing in the area that runs between the pulleys. If it is cracked it will break, and if it is glazed it will slip. If either of these conditions are observed, replace it immediately.
•Check the fan belt’s tension. The fan belt should be able to move about ½ inch when pushed between the alternator and crankshaft pulley. Tighten the belt as necessary.
•Inspect all hoses for cracking.
•Look for signs of leakage around the water pump.
•Check the pressure cap to see that the rubber is not cracked and is still flexible. Replace as necessary.Always remember to wait until the radiator and engine block are cold before removing the pressure cap
Pulling a Trailer
There is a whole lot more to pulling a trailer than simply hitching her up and barreling down the road. You need to adjust the way your vehicle handles. The National Hightway Traffic Safety Adminsistration (NHTSA) recommends the following:
•Use the driving gear that the manufacutuere recommends for towing.
•Drive at moderate speeds. Avoid sudden stops and starts that can cause skidding, sliding or jack-knifing.
•Make wider turns at curves and corners.
•Allow considerably more distance for stopping.