Summer driving tips to keep you and your car happy
You should always keep your car clean and maintained, but summer brings additional concerns that you need to keep in mind. Warmer temperatures can affect your car if you do not keep it maintained properly by preparing it for summer. Warm weather means more events and more people out, which means more vehicle and pedestrian traffic that you need to pay attention to. You also need to take care of yourself in the summer so that you can be a safe driver. Remember it is never safe to leave a person, child or pet in a car in the summer heat for any amount of time, the results can be deadly.
Do your summer maintenance
The most important tip is to make sure that you do all the necessary maintenance to be sure that your vehicle is ready for the warmer temperatures and longer drives that summer brings. Make sure that all fluids are at the correct levels such as coolant, transmission fluid, oil and windshield washer fluid. You may also want to consider flushing the coolant system to ensure you have the proper mix to keep your car cool if you are idling in traffic in hot weather. If any belts or hoses are showing signs of wear, it is a good idea to replace them before the temperatures heat up outside as heat and humidity can cause rubber to deteriorate faster. If you live in an area that requires snow tires in the winter, make sure that you switch back to your all-season tires. Tax day (April 15) usually marks the end of any snow in most parts of the United States, so it is safe to change your snow tires out about the same time. Make sure when the tires are switched you have the optimum tire pressure level. Hot pavement is rough on tires and not having your tires properly inflated can cause you to lose control and tires to be damaged by potholes easier.
Watch out for extra cars on the road and people too
Summer means more people are out driving, and with more construction going on this means more traffic to contend with. If possible, try to travel at times that you can avoid traffic jams if you are planning a trip or outing. Most states have websites that list all the construction areas and the hours they will be closing lanes. Always consult these before you choose the route you plan on using. It is also a good idea to use your GPS to keep you up to date of traffic jams or problems areas while you are on the road and choose alternate routes as needed. By traveling early in the morning or late at night, you also avoid having to drive in the hotter parts of the day. Keep speed limits in mind especially with the possibility of children playing in the street and others out biking, skating or walking. With your windows closed and air conditioning on, you cannot hear what is going on outside the car, so you have to be much more of a proactive driver to avoid accidents or other incidents.
If you plan to take a road trip or have to travel in an area with a lot of construction or traffic, pack yourself some water and healthy snacks. It is important to keep yourself hydrated in the summer, this means even when you are riding in a car. Dehydration and traffic is a combination that can lead to stress and fatigue and can affect your ability to drive as safe as you normally would. If you are planning a long road trip, make sure you stop at regular intervals to take a break so you do not become fatigued. It is also a good idea to keep a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times. People usually spend more time in their car in the summer, so make sure that you restock it before you set out on any trips. You also may want to keep an extra weather radio in your car, as in some areas the weather can turn violent in the area with little or no warning. If dangerous weather arrives while you are driving, find a safe place to pull off using your GPS and wait it out, it is always safer to park then try to outrun a storm.
Being proactive can keep you, your passengers and your car safe in the summer. Make sure you plan your trips by packing extra supplies and having alternate routes around traffic and construction. Make sure your car is in perfect working order before you set out on any road trips and before the weather gets too hot and problems can occur. By taking a little time to plan ahead, it can save you a lot of time and money on a problem you could have prevented.