Before hitting the road this summer, you can take several simple precautions to keep your family safe and save money at the pump. Extreme heat and long drives can be tough on cars. Cracked hoses, leaky radiators, underinflated tires and dirty filters can significantly lower your fuel efficiency, or worse, lead to a total breakdown.
Cool down more quickly by driving with the windows rolled down and the air cranked up, which forces out the hot air and allows the cool air to circulate. In a few minutes, when the air inside the car should be about the same temperature as the air outside, you’re ready to roll up the windows.
Scorching steering wheel?
Prevent burning your hands with this trick: Turn the wheel 180 degrees before getting out of the car. That way, the side you touch is safely in the shade while you're out.
A hot car can also mean a smelly car. To get rid of the stench, tape a dryer sheet onto the air conditioning. When you blast the AC, your ride will get a refresher too. Stash a box of dryer sheets under the passenger seat for maximum deodorizing as you travel.
If your car's air conditioning isn't working or just needs an extra boost, try a solar-powered car fan. These tiny devices can be mounted on an open window, expelling hot air from the car while creating constant air circulation. Note: Tinted windows interfere with this gadget's function.
Be prepared. Tires are more prone to blowouts in the hot summer months, because drivers are often on a sizzling road with the heavier loads for longer periods of time. Underinflated tires are most at risk, since the lack of air pressure puts the tires' components under increased strain; but overinflated ones are more likely to hydroplane in a summer rainstorm. Periodically check your tread by sticking a penny into the groove of the tire with Lincoln's head facing inward. If you can see the top of Abe's head, it's time for a new set. Here are more brilliant uses for spare pennies.
Hot temperatures and low coolant levels increase the risk of your engine overheating, and your AC working overtime. If you see symptoms of an overheated engine—the temperature gauge rising; warning lights; steam billowing out from the hood—pull over to a safe place, turn off the engine, and wait at least a half hour for it to cool down fully before opening the hood. If your coolant levels are low, topping off the tank (it’s the translucent plastic one) could do the trick, but if the tank is empty you might have sprung a leak and will need pro help. Here are secrets car mechanics don't want you to know.
Spending time in the sun is just as bad for your car as it is for you, as sun damage can cause paint and interiors to fade. To prevent problems, park in a garage when possible and invest in a sunshade. Here's why it's critical to wear sunscreen while you drive.
Read more about these tips from Reader's Digest.
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