Did you know your vehicle is more susceptible to breaking down in the summer due to the climate? 

When temperatures begin tipping 90 degrees and higher, vehicles on the road are far more likely to experience breakdowns due to engine failure, flat tires, overheating coolant systems, and dead car batteries. 

According to AAA, each summer, the car service rescues an average of over 7 million stranded drivers; this number is so high due to an increase in travel by vehicle for family vacations and road trips. 

“As 64 percent of family travelers gear up for a road trip this summer, AAA warns that the majority of U.S. vehicles are at a higher-than-average risk for a breakdown. A new analysis of AAA roadside data shows that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to end up stranded on the side of the road compared to newer vehicles and on top of that, the odds of needing a tow quadruples. With more than half of cars on the road aged 10 years or older, AAA urges drivers to minimize the chance of a breakdown by getting their vehicle road-trip-ready.” 

AAA

In getting your vehicle road-trip ready, it’s imperative to be aware of how the heat can leave your vehicle broken down and be proactive in properly servicing your vehicle, so you’re not stranded on the side of the road. 

Here’s our list of the four most common causes of summer breakdowns and how to avoid them. 

Engine breakdowns

When summer rolls around, it’s important to not only keep an eye out for a “check engine” light but to take immediate action when the light turns on. During summer, engine coolant system failures are prominent and often fail without warning; this is why you mustn’t skip routine maintenance for your vehicle. 

“Engine cooling system failures, such as the radiator, thermostat or water pump or engine parts such as the timing belt, most prominently in vehicles age 10 years and older. Drivers should look for fluids such as coolant pooling underneath the vehicle when it is parked as an indication of an impending problem.”

AAA

Flat tire

Flat tires are one of the more frequent reasons why you see an influx of vehicles broken down in the summer. We recommend you check your vehicle’s tire pressure about once per month to maximize the lifespan of tires and ensure tire vehicle safety. 

Also, be sure to check your tire’s treads routinely and remember that solid tire tread depth will be 6/32 or deeper; once the depth reaches 4/32, you will want to replace tires. It’s important to confirm your vehicle has a spare tire handy, should you ever experience an emergency and need immediate tire replacement. Check your car today and ensure that you have a spare tire in solid condition. 

“If tire pressure exceeds the levels recommended by the manufacturer, it can lead to a blowout. Additionally, overinflated tires are prone to premature wear, which creates harsher ride and handling problems. Under-inflated tires are also the reason for concern when driving in hot weather. Under-inflated tires generate a lot more heat and tend to incur damage faster when the temperature is high, with added rolling resistance that is created when they get in contact with the road, making the tires themselves hotter than usual, which affects their integrity.”

Jordan Perch, a transportation analyst, and researcher

Overheating

Check your coolant system often in the summer, as overheating is another common cause of vehicle breakdowns in hot temperatures. When the weather gets hotter, engines do too. This often causes the engine’s coolant system to work twice as hard as it stresses to keep the engine cool. 

We recommend you have your coolant system checked at the beginning of every summer and before any long road trip. But, if you elect to check your vehicle’s coolant system yourself, ensure that there are not any deteriorating seals in the system and inspect the water pump, hoses, and radiator. On average, coolant systems should be replaced after an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 miles. 

Car battery

Experiencing a dead battery is often experienced in the summer due to the excessive fluid evaporating from the battery, lessening its overall life span and functionality. To avoid a dead battery in high temperatures, get your battery checked regularly; we recommend before summer and any long road trips. 

Many auto part retailers will often inspect your vehicle’s battery for FREE, as long as you purchased it from them. Be sure to ask and take advantage of this service. Also, on average, a vehicle’s battery is ready for replacement after an estimated three years. Do not delay!