Spring is here and that means warmer weather and a chance for you to polish off your car after a period of Winter inactivity. But have you noticed a difference in how your car runs as the temperatures rise? Don’t worry — that’s not just your imagination. Your car is able to handle most rises and dips in temperature, but that in itself can have an effect on its performance.
With all the rapidly moving parts and hard work, engines are already designed to take a lot of heat. That said, they can only handle so much. When that line is crossed, you’re potentially looking at major damage. Mechanical trouble aside, performance is also affected by overheating. Oil, coolant and fans help keep engines at a safe operating temperature, but ambient temperature plays a role, too. Specifically, engines rely on an accurate air–fuel ratio to run smoothly and efficiently. Too much or too little fuel is a problem, and the ECU or engine control unit monitors the amount and quality of air coming into the intake and adjusts fuel respectively.
What matters here is that cold air is denser than hot air. That means that in the summer, your intake receives less concentrated levels of oxygen than in the winter, causing the engine to lose horsepower trying to make up the difference. The other problem with warm air is that it can suspend more water particles when it’s humid out, which further displaces the oxygen. If you have a turbocharger, you’ll especially notice it there. To prevent a rich mixture (too much fuel) and engine knocking, less fuel is sent to the combustion chamber, and the ECU adjusts the timing. All of this has a negative effect on performance. All in all, cars need protection from the hot weather to ensure that they run optimally and don’t end up with serious problems.
Checking your tire pressure is one of the most important things you can do year-round, but especially during the warmer months. If your tires are improperly inflated, the risk of failure is even greater. Checking your tire pressure doesn’t always require a professional. A simple tire air pressure gauge, available at most auto parts stores, is good enough for the job.
Smaller compact and mid-size sedans typically have PSI (pounds per square inch) levels between 30 and 40 PSI. Larger vehicles with larger tires, including bigger sedans, usually have higher pressure, around 40-45 PSI. The recommended PSI for tires is usually located on a sticker on the driver’s side door jam, in your owner’s manual.
Tires should all be inflated to the same PSI for safety, proper vehicle function, comfort, and fuel efficiency. It is easy to prevent hazardous situations by checking your tires once a month and replacing them before they become dangerously worn.
Temperature change can affect the air pressure of your tires, so as the weather warms up, make sure they stay properly inflated. Tires should always be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Heat can negatively impact your battery’s function. Vibration and heat are a battery’s worst enemy. While there is not much you can do about naturally occurring heat, you can take the steps to make sure your battery is securely mounted, allowing as little vibration of the battery as possible.
If not protected properly, the suspended plates in the battery become loose and rub against each other. This results in a sudden high discharge current that can lead to excessive heat buildup and thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is caused by a battery charging current or other process which produces more internal heat than the battery can use. Incorrect manufacturing as well as excessive shock and vibration are the most common contributors to this failure.
It’s always a good idea to carry a set of jumper cables or a battery jump box so you don’t get stranded. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. Also, it’s important to check your car’s battery terminals for corrosion.
When you have your car in for regular service, be sure the technician checks the charging output of the battery.
A hot engine needs all the lubrication it can get, so keeping on top of engine oil changes is especially important during the warmer months. The most important thing is to change the oil at regular intervals and use the oil weight recommended in the owner’s manual for your car.
Low coolant levels can greatly damage your engine. Worn hoses or a damaged radiator can allow coolant to leak and engine temperatures to rise. Your vehicle’s cooling system’s job is to protect the engine from overheating. Over time your engine’s coolant can become contaminated causing depletion of its protective additive.
Coolant eventually breaks down like any other engine fluid. Just as motor oil has vital engine performance additives, your coolant has components that prevent boiling, freezing and corrosion. By the time these additives slowly break down, contaminants and debris can begin to build up on your radiator, affecting its performance. This is why flushing and replacement of your vehicle’s coolant is highly recommended.
To keep yourself cool, have your air conditioning serviced regularly. Replacing the cabin air filter can also improve cooling and prolong the life of your A/C system. A/C work can be very costly, so catching a problem early can save hundreds of dollars in repairs down the road. Examine belts, check for any leaks, and clean out any clogged vents that may be preventing the system from functioning properly.
All these issues can be prevented with a proper maintenance schedule. We can’t slack off with keeping our vehicles in top condition—failing to prepare means you can be at risk for accidents when you need your car most. You can check on a lot of these possible issues yourself, but of course, the best way to prevent accidents is to have professionals regularly check your vehicle. Let King Brothers help keep you and your family safe in your car. Give us a call at 313-534-8090 (Redford) or 734-744-8557 (Livonia), or feel free to request for a quote here.