Keep Your Cool While Traveling In Summer

‘Tis the season of overheating--for vehicles, and those inside them.

Here’s how to keep a humming engine and breezy interior.

“Most vehicles overheat due to poor maintenance,” said Jared Avent, training manager at Universal Technical Institute’s Sacramento campus. “Coolant, like oil, has a service limit. Over time the coolant evaporates and overheating begins.”

Fans and coolant maintain an engine’s temperature--a busted fan or insufficient coolant disables an engine.

And that’s just outside--the cabin itself isn’t exactly welcoming. This isn’t a problem if your climate control works. But that’s not always the case. Air conditioners can fail in a variety of ways for a number of reasons. One expert points out that there’s no cure-all simply because there’s warm air venting.

“Never assume warm air from the vents automatically means the system’s low on refrigerant,” said Dave Cappert of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, a nationwide certification agency for automotive technicians.

Below, Cappert and Avent suggest services and precautions worth considering this time of year:

  • Hot air from the A/C does NOT always mean “add refrigerant.” It could be a blown fuse--or something entirely different.
  • Don’t put tap water in the radiator. Tap water invites foreign minerals that can plug passages and increase wear and tear.
  • If your car overheats, turn off the engine and open the hood.
  • Never twist the radiator cap while it is hot. Not only is the cap itself blistering hot, it’s holding back a rolling boil of chemicals under high pressure. Opening the cap of a hot radiator may cause severe injury from scalding liquid. Wait for the radiator to cool before opening.
  • Continuing to drive an overheating engine can cause severe damage. Consider a tow to a local service center or repair shop.