Summer Auto Care
There are many misconceptions and little-known facts about car maintenance during the summer. Most people are only worried about their car breaking down in the cold, but being stranded out in the heat can be just as bad. Local experts shared their advice with us to keep your vehicle safe and moving through the summer heat.
When thinking about how you need to protect your car, it’s important to remember that harsh sun rays can damage the interior, exterior, and even the engine.
One of the most common auto issues experienced during the summer is a flat or blowout tire. Since tire pressure is affected by temperature, make sure to keep an eye on your PSI (pounds per square inch). Always touch your tires before you drive to see if they are noticeably hot. When a tire gets too hot, the PSI increases to the point of over inflation. Be sure to keep a pressure gauge handy in case you need to release air from your tire in a pinch. Also, check tire pressure in a place that’s shaded or cool to find the actual tire pressure. The number one thing you can do to prevent a tire blowout is to go the speed limit on the highway. Long periods of high temperatures can cause concrete to expand, causing parts of the highway or interstate to bulge or break, which can be extremely dangerous to drivers going high speeds.
For fleet vehicles specifically, time is money. Don’t lose precious daylight solving a problem that can be avoided with some simple monitoring. If you’re in charge of a fleet of vehicles, you know that maintenance of those vehicles is key to the success of your business. It’s imperative that your business builds a relationship with a local service provider to have on call if something goes wrong and to keep your fleet of vehicles in the best shape possible.
To get more information, we spoke to Mark Griger, owner of Fleetmark Solutions. As the owner of a commercial vehicle repair and maintenance company, Mark understands the importance of having your fleet out on the streets.
“Having a tire blowout can make companies loose much more time than they think,” Mark addressed. “If their vehicle is only equipped with a donut to use as a spare, they’ll have to make sure their repair company has a new tire to put on. If they don’t, it can take a few days to get that specific tire. Even if their vehicle does have a full-size spare tire on hand, the wear and tear will be different from the other three tires. The wheel will actually handle differently and can cause some pretty unsafe driving. It’s always better to have the entire set replaced together.”
With that in mind, Mark advised us to beware of tire pressure and potholes! “In Nebraska, where potholes are as common as cornfields, it’s important to keep your tire pressure in check to avoid a blowout. I always suggest that companies ensure that the vehicle’s tire pressure get checked every morning. It’s important to do it early, before the car has been driven, in order to get the most accurate reading. If your tire is overinflated, less of the tire’s surface area will hit the road, making the tire wear unevenly which makes it more prone to damage from potholes. Here, where you’re basically guaranteed to hit one pothole on a morning commute, that isn’t a risk you want to take lightly!”
In addition, heated wheels are more at risk for damage from leaks, sharp objects, and slipping. Make sure to check your tire tread to ensure you can safely make it to where you need to be. One easy way to do this when you don’t have a pressure gauge handy is with a penny. Simply insert a penny, upside down, into the groove of the tire. If the tread doesn’t cover the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to head into the shop for some new tires! Also look out for cuts, cracks, or bulges in the sidewall. They’re all red flags that you need new tires pronto.
Fleetmark offers a number of services for fleet vehicles from electrical repairs to towing. They use high-tech diagnostic equipment to guarantee your vehicle is completely safe to drive the first time around. Their certified service and repair technicians have years of experience in everything from oil changes to complete engine overhauls. They pride themselves on only using the highest quality filters, replacement parts, and oils.
The engine and mechanical components of your car are the most vital. Sun beams won’t simply affect their look, they could potentially cause a breakdown. It’s always important to fill your engine with high quality fluids to ensure the long life of your vehicle. Always follow manufacturer’s instruction in terms of topping off oil and other internal fluids.
If not properly protected, the sun can cause some major damage to the interior of your car as well. Sun damage can lead to fading, cracking, or unwanted spots and stains so make sure to use preventative methods whenever you can.
There’s nothing worse than leaving the hot air of outside just to get in even hotter air inside your car. When your car sits outside exposed to direct sunlight, its metal shell absorbs the heat and acts as an oven, heating the air inside. The air inside your car on a hot day can heat to 140° F or higher! The surfaces of your car, like your seats, seatbelts, and steering wheel, can heat to over 195° F. Here are a few simple things to protect your car’s dash, seats, and other internal components:
- Use seat and steering wheel covers
- Use a windshield sun protector (they aren’t as scary as they look!)
- Keep your dash clean with a microfiber cloth to make sure dust and dirt don’t cause tiny scratches
- Park in the shade or anywhere that doesn’t have direct sunlight
- If it’s safe to do so, open the windows just a crack to equalize the air pressure and stimulate air flow
- Keep leather seats clean and conditioned
Once you’ve considered the wheels and other external parts of your automobile, along with what’s going inside and under the hood, it’s time to care for the most important aspect—yourself, the driver! It’s important to promote self care through this sweltering heat so drivers can remain safe, happy, and driving. When drivers don’t prioritize their health and safety, you can run into a lot of issues. Falling asleep on the road is a major problem for hired drivers that can be easily avoided if companies and truckers would work together to come up with plausible driving schedules. Make sure they take breaks when they need them, even if it does slow them down. It’s also important for companies to only hire capable truckers who are honest and willing to follow your driving regulations. If one of your guys falls asleep on the road, and you didn’t do a background check or avoided confronting him on issues in the past, you could be liable.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fatigued truck drivers were found to be responsible for approximately 20,000 serious injuries and 750 deaths every year. Make sure that one of your guys doesn’t add to one of these numbers. Enforce the law that your drivers don’t drive more than 11 hours straight. Also, be sure to monitor that they are taking their 10 hour breaks after that 11 hours and that they don’t drive over 60 hours in a week.
Cody Simons, owner of DPC Unlimited LLC, works with diesel performance trucks and big rigs. He knows exactly how important it is for drivers, and specifically long-haul truckers, to take care of themselves on the road.
Cody told us how truckers can ensure their personal safety on the road. “The highway gets really busy this time of year because of summer vacationers, so make sure to plan that into your driving time. Also, long-term sun exposure can cause some long-term issues, so protect your skin. Drivers may not get an actual sunburn since car window glass is designed to block the ultraviolet rays, but they can sustain long-term skin damage. Wear long shirts and hats, and make sure you use sunscreen that works! The sun can also dehydrate you, which makes you feel more tired than you really are, so drink plenty of fluids, and pay attention to the signs your body is giving you when it’s time for some shut-eye.”
DPC Unlimited is a performance diesel and truck accessory outlet that offers diesel performance parts and tuning required for on and off-road performance for big rigs and light-duty pickups. They offer services for semis, pickups, and farm implements. DPC Unlimited LLC has you covered from chrome for a semi to parts for a diesel pickup. They work to have their inventory consistently stocked with the parts you need.
From morning commutes to long hauls, make sure that your vehicle can stand the heat. Always be sure to do the recommended regular checkups to avoid any major, costly auto issues. Stay cool. Stay safe. Stay moving.