Safe-T Buzz Tip: Summer Driving PreparationThe summer driving season is approaching, and NTTA safety staff would like to remind drivers that getting stuck on the side of a road during sweltering temperatures can be gravely dangerous. The NTTA Roadway Customer Service team receives hundreds of calls for help each month from stranded motorists, and many of the problems drivers encounter during summer months can be directly attributed to or compounded by heat. Roadway Customer Service Manager Bob Digman offers these tips on preparing your car or truck for the relentless North Texas summer heat.
Digman advises taking a few minutes a week to perform five checks that not only save time and money by preventing needless repairs, they may also save a life. “As vehicle owners, all too many times we think all we have to do is put gas in the vehicle and go whenever and wherever we want,” he said. “These simple tasks can provide you with better and safer miles, and, in many cases, extend the life of your vehicle.”
Stay Hydrated: Fluid Levels are Key
Check and top off all fluid levels, including engine oil and transmission, cooling system, power steering, brake and washer fluids. These are the lifeblood of your car. Purchasing high-quality fluids and regularly changing old fluids will improve your car's performance and reliability. One way to spot potential problems: watch for stains on the driveway or street where you park your car.
Keep Your Cool
Overheating, especially in hot Texas weather, is the leading cause of preventable breakdowns and one of the main areas where prevention is much cheaper than the cure. Simply put, a fried engine is an expensive repair. If your antifreeze is more than a couple of years old, play it safe and replace your antifreeze. Adding coolant to your radiator also may reduce engine temperature by as much as 30 degrees and help condition seals to prevent leaks.
Consider Upgrading Your Oil
Another way to reduce engine heat is to upgrade to high-performance, synthetic motor oil. Synthetic motor oils reduce engine heat by dispersing the heat faster and having a lower coefficient of friction than mineral-based motor oils.
Inspect Belts and Hoses
After checking and adding fluids, check your car’s belts and hoses. A worn or loose belt can cause the engine to overheat. A cracked belt or a hose that is unusually soft or hard needs replacement. Make sure hose clamps are tight ,and check the ends for cracks or corrosion. Extreme heat can often cause leaks and other damage, so keep an eye out for hard, blistered or spongy hoses. If any of these warning signs are present, replace the hoses immediately. It is also a good idea to keep spare belts in your trunk.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Finally, inspect your tires. “Roadway Customer Service and the Command Center see too many dangerous tire blow-outs and flat tires on NTTA roads,” Digman said. All tires should be properly inflated, including the spare tire. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver's side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner's manual. Correctly inflated tires increase gas mileage, lengthen tire life and are much less susceptible to blow-outs. Some tire stores offer free tire checks.