How Hot is to hot to drive a car
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When Is It Too Hot To Drive A Car? 5 Things to Look For

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With the summer months rolling in upon us.  Many of us will be taking to the roads for a long-planned road trip or family vacation.  However, the summer months can be brutal on our vehicles. Living in Florida, I can speak from experience that summer heat can be detrimental to your car. 

So, when is it too hot to drive a car?  There is no set outside temperature that is too hot for your car.  Living in Florida I regularly drive in heat that is in excess of 105℉ and high humidity and I have had no problems with my car.  Now, this is not to say you don’t need to care for your car. These temperatures are extreme and you need to make sure your vehicle is up to snuff to endure this heat. 

Now if you are talking about personal comfort, that is a different story.  During the summer here in Florida, I move from my house to my car to my office.  I try not to be outside for any length of time unless I am at the beach.

As long as my air conditioning is working I will be able to drive my car.  However, there are some things that you can do to help keep your car tolerable in the summer. Or are you talking about engine temperature, how hot can your engine run? Let’s take a look at this and other questions about driving your car in the summer heat.

Table Of Contents

There are certain things that you can do to make driving during the summer an enjoyable experience.  Let’s address a few questions and go over some suggestions to make your summer travel plans a success.

How Hot Does A Car Engine Run?

According to Cars.com, the normal operating temperature of a car engine is 195 to 220℉. So, your car’s engine is used to running at very hot levels and hot weather does put an additional strain on the engine.

Temperature guage

However, by keeping an eye on the temperature gauge and staying on top of your car’s maintenance you shouldn’t have any problems.

If, though, you see your temperature gauge begin to trend up to the red or you smell anti-freeze (you’ll know). It may be time to look for a place to pull over and give your car a chance to cool down.

Read on to find the major areas that need to be maintained to help get your car thru the summer months.

How to Keep a Parked Car Cool

At the time of writing this, 90% of the United States is under some form of stay at home order due to the novel coronavirus.  So driving your vehicle may not even be an issue. 

Your car, like mine, is probably sitting in the driveway or parking lot waiting to go somewhere.  However, summer heat will still be on us whether we are driving or not.

So a more pertinent question may be, how do you keep a parked car cool in the summertime heat?  Well, it just so happens that I have an article that offers several fine suggestions on how to beat the summer heat, click here.

But if you have to drive, is it bad to drive in hot weather?

Is It Bad To Drive A Car In Hot Weather?

No, it is not bad to drive your car in hot weather.  You have to drive, right?  Whether you’re going to school, work, or on vacation, you will probably be driving at some point this summer.  

But there are certain things that you can do to make sure that your car is prepared for summertime weather.

These include:

  • Checking your fluids
  • Checking Your Battery
  • Washing and Waxing your car
  • Checking your air conditioning 
  • Keeping your emergency car kit up to date
  • And many other things…

You can read a complete guide on how to prepare your car for summer here.  With these few simple steps, you can be sure that your car will be in tip-top shape for summertime.

The thing is you have to be able to get around even when it’s hot. So take care of your car so it doesn’t leave you stranded in the summer heat.

So how does the extreme summer heat affect your car’s performance?

How Does Hot Weather Affect A Car’s Performance?

Your car isn’t going to drive any slower in the summer heat, but there is certainly a greater strain placed on your vehicle during the summer.  Heat does have an effect on various components of your car, which in turn will affect your car’s performance.

Vehicle components most affected by summertime heat are your tires, battery, radiator, oil, and air conditioning system.  This list is by no means exclusive, but these are the areas that will affect your vehicle’s performance. Let’s take a brief look at each one of these items. 

Tires

The air pressure of your tires is of utmost importance as we discussed over here, in ‘what does PSI mean in tires?’.  When there are large fluctuations in temperature, such as hot day time high temperatures and cooler nighttime temperatures; there will be a change in a tire’s air pressure.

One thing to watch out for is the over-inflation of tires.  With the roads being hotter and the heat generated by your tires, the PSI in your tires will actually increase when you are driving.  

As a safety precaution, the air pressure in your tire should be checked once a month.  By doing this you will know what state your tires are in and how to make them last the longest.  

While you are at it, why not check the air pressure in your spare tire, too?

Battery

While it is true that cold weather is hard on a car battery, extreme heat puts even more strain on your battery.  Why is this? Typically, car batteries are lead-acid batteries and require a chemical reaction to generate the power they need.

During the hot summer months, the temperature is squelching under the hood.  This causes the fluids in the battery to evaporate and that causes the battery not to work. How do you prevent this?

Have your battery checked BEFORE the summer months begin.  You can do this yourself with a voltmeter or you can take it to a place like Autozone and they will test it for free.

Keep in mind, that a battery only lasts three to five years on average.  So, if you are not sure how old your battery is; you may want to carry around the correct size jumper cables just in case your battery happens to fail on you.

If you have done your due diligence and know that you need to replace your car battery. This article from Consumer Reports will help you to choose the correct battery for your vehicle.

Radiator and Anti-Freeze / Cooling System

Do you know that poor motorist that is stuck on the side of the road with white steam billowing from under the hood?  Yeah, that person didn’t maintain their cooling system and now they are paying the price.

Again, this is a super important area that needs to be maintained and my article over here discusses each component of the cooling system.  Here is a quick list of areas that need to be checked.

  • Belts and hoses
  • Radiator
  • Anti-freeze

Even if looking under the hood intimidates you; at the very least make sure your anti-freeze coolant is full.  For a more thorough inspection of your cooling system take your car to the mechanic and have them check it out.

The temperature gauge on your dashboard is a great indicator if your car is running hotter than it should be.  If you find yourself in this situation over here are some tips on what to do if your car is overheating.

Engine Oil

Ah, the lifeblood of your car.  A car’s engine already runs at nearly 200℉, the addition of summer heat just amplifies the running temperature.  That is why you need to make sure you are using the proper oil for your vehicle.  

Engine oil thins out the hotter it gets.  So obviously, if the oil becomes to thin it will not protect the moving parts of your car’s engine.  If you are regular with your oil changes this shouldn’t be an issue for you.  

Just occasionally check your engine oil level and make sure it’s not to low and you should be fine. 

Final Thoughts…

Whether or not your car is parked for a while or you have to brave the summer heat you are prepared.  Yes, the summer hot weather is more difficult on your car and you in some cases.

But with proper preparation and some common sense, you can have your car fully ready to go for summer.  

Safe travels…

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