As we face another week of extreme heat warnings, your Neighborhood Auto Repair Professionals (NARPRO) are extremely busy installing batteries, fixing air conditioning, filling fluids and replacing tires. Local mechanics are sharing ways drivers can avoid car problems or a breakdown in our extreme heat:
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• Heat evaporates battery fluids, which can speed up corrosion.
• Batteries in Arizona don’t last as long as cooler climates. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested.
• If it’s running a little warm you might have low refrigerant, a loose drive belt, clogged valves or filters or clogs in the condenser.
• Neglecting minor issues like a leaky hose can lead to early compressor failure, which can top $1000 to fix.
• Under-inflated tires create excessive heat and stress that can lead to a blowout.
• According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, 85%of drivers don’t know how to properly inflate their tires.
• To get the most accurate pressure reading, check tires when they’ve been driven less than a mile.
• Regularly inspect the tread and sidewalls for irregular tread, wear, cracking cuts or other damage. Even minor damage can lead to eventual tire failure.
• The minimum acceptable tread depth is 3/32 inch which is about the distance from the edge of a penny to the top of Lincoln’s head, but you don’t want to risk the minimum during an Arizona summer.
• Just like for humans, fluids are essential for cars. Not only do fluids lubricate parts but they also carry heat away from important parts. Extreme heat will lead to evaporation and potentially reduce the cooling effect, which can lead to your car overheating.
• Make sure engine (motor) oil, coolant/antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid are full. If you want to replace fluids on your own, be sure to check the owner’s manual so you use the right type for your vehicle.
Blades, Belts and Hoses
• If you don’t remember the last time you replaced windshield wiper blades, do it now. You don’t want to discover they’re cracked and warped during monsoon season.
• Like wiper blades, the heat can create problems on other rubber parts like belts and hoses. Check for signs of wear and cracking and if you see anything questionable, get it fixed.
• When temps are at their peak, so are calls for road service. Having a fully charged cell phone isn’t enough if you’re stuck waiting for hours.
• To avoid car problems in the heat, carry water, jumper cables, a flashlight, first-aid kit, reflective warning triangles, and an umbrella for shade if you need to exit your vehicle.
• Never let your gas tank fall below one-quarter. If you’re traveling in remote areas, it’s a good idea to keep the tank half-full. If you’re stranded you want to be able to run the AC until help arrives.