The weather in Phoenix is delightful from November through April. May can be beautiful as well, although temperatures start to escalate. This brings us to June through September, when 100° plus is the “average” high recorded for the ten years, 2010 – 2019. Unfortunately, those averages pale compared to the summer of 2020 when we set records in the Valley for the hottest month on record in July – a record that lasted for precisely one month until August was even hotter!
Photo courtesy of Phoenix New Times
The National Weather Service predicts a 59% probability this summer will be hotter than average again! Prepare for this summer’s onslaught of sunny, 110° – 115° highs in the coming days.We Phoenicians have learned to adapt our lifestyles and activities during the Valley’s searing summer heat.We know to stay hydrated, limit exercise to early morning or evening, lather on the sunscreen, hit the pool frequently, and perhaps escape to San Diego for a few days.
We know that our homes, gardens, and especially pets have special needs during the summer. So does your vehicle–without preventative maintenance, our summers can lead to more severe problems than scorching hot leather seats, needing oven mitts to hold your steering wheel, and seatbelts that turn into branding irons!
In this article, we provide 5 steps to prepare your car for the long hot Arizona summer. Whether you’re planning that road trip to San Diego or just driving around town, proper prior planning can preventcar problems in summer 2021.
1. Check Your Battery
We know how vital the A/C is, and we’ll get there, but if it won’t start, the lack of air conditioning is the least of your problems. Batteries last on average three summers in Phoenix, where some days get so hot the planes at Sky Harbor are grounded. Clean any residue buildup on the terminals and cable clamps and check to ensure your battery is securely attached to prevent vibration.
2. Check Tires and Tire Pressure– Your TPMS
Your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will remind you at this time of year to check your tires on most modern vehicles.Dramatic temperature changes affect your tire pressurecausing the low-pressure indicator to appear. The hot pavement on Valley roads and highways and under-inflated tires can lead to premature wear and blowouts. You should check your tire pressure when the car has been idle, and tires are cool, inflating as needed to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
Those blown tire treads that appear this time of the year on our highways present another potential problem. From personal experience, we’ve seen the devastation they cause to windshields when flipped up by vehicles, which leads us to Step 3.
3. Inspect Your Windshield for Chips and Cracks
From a priority point of view, you’ve now ensured your car will startand roll along the road safely. Next is another safety precaution, inspecting your windshield for any chips or cracks before summer. Your windshield does more than protect you from the wind; it is a crucial component of the structural support of your vehicle. In a head-on collision, the windshield provides up to 45% of the cabin’s structural integrity.
If your windshield is compromised, it can cause your airbags to malfunction. In a roll-oversituation, the windshield prevents the roof from caving, providing up to 60% of the structural support. We consider that an important priority.
Most vehicle owners don’t intuitively associate heat with windshield damage; however, the two are integrally related. Glass expands in heat, and even small chips or cracks can splinter and become a significantissue. Any chip or crack larger than a dime should always be repaired as soon as possible. This becomes even more critical before the summer heat.
Photo courtesy of The Jeep Guide
Another extreme temperature variation is turning on the air conditioning too cool and too soon in a hot car. During our heatwaves,the interior of your car can reach upwards of 150°in a matter of minutes, causing minor windshield damage to fragmentand spread when hit with colder air. Always start your car’s A/C on low and allow the vehicle to cool slowly. Likewise, washing your car with cold water after sitting in the hot sun is another opportunity for mayhem and windshield chips to expand.
Wait too long, and the minor crack or chip that was no problem this spring may become too largeto repair by summer and a costlier windshield replacement may be required.
Local Valley companies, such as SunTec Windshield Replacement of Arizona are intimately familiar with the hot climate. They train their technicians to address auto glass issues from a minor chip to windshield replacements; always using only correct parts and adhesives.
Should a glass technician inspect your damaged windshield in time, they may be able to repair the glass with a resin or acrylic filler to prevent the chip from expanding. If, however, they determine the damage is too severe or impedes your line of vision, a new windshield installation may be necessary.
Although we’ve focused on our heat, Arizona’s monsoon season presentsadditional challenges. While checking for chips or cracks, you should also check your windshield wiper blades and make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full.
Speaking of fluid levels brings us back to another essential preventative maintenance step before summer arrives.
4. Monitor all Fluid Levels – Especially Your Vehicle’s Coolant
Our extreme heat can cause your vehicle’s fluids to evaporate, so be sure to check engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering, and brake fluid levels. These fluids serve as cooling agents, reducing the friction of critical internal parts. Keep them hydrated.
Coolant is your first line of defense against overheating. Check coolant levels, but be careful;always allow your car to cool off sufficiently before removing the radiator cap!If levels are lower than they should b,e it may point to a leak that needs to be addressed.
5. Check Hoses, Belts and Change the Air Filter
A visual inspection of radiator hoses for worn, brittle, or bulging spots and a spot check for any cracked or frayed belts is another prudent step before the warmer weather arrives. With our heat and monsoons, dust is a constant in the Valley. Replacing the air filter and checking it throughout the summer are recommended. A clogged air filter can cause damage to your engine.
Depending on where you live, summer can either be a comfortable time of the year or it can be sweltering. Either way, it is important to take the necessary precautions before summer so that your vehicle is serviced and can perform safely as the weather heats up.
Don’t let a simple fix, like a windshield repair or an air filter change, turn into a more serious situation when it hits over 110 degrees in Arizona. A few minutes of careful inspection can stave off a potentially dangerous catastrophe at the most inopportune time.