Heat wave driving tips: Protecting yourself and your car this summer

The following 10 tips will help ensure that you and your car survive even the hottest driving conditions.

Summer driving may be fun, but it can also be quite dangerous. With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 ways to keep your car and yourself safe this summer.

Keeping your vehicle safe:

1. Like human beings, cars are highly susceptible to overheating in warm weather conditions. In order to safeguard against overheating, make sure that your radiator is working properly by frequently checking coolant levels. Most modern cars make this process simple because transparent tanks allow you to easily check fluid levels. Aside from a quick visual spot check, you should also remove the radiator cap and look inside to ensure that the fluid comes to the top.

2. Aside from the radiator, transmissions are also prone to overheating in inclement weather. To curb transmission overheating in the summer, simply get your transmission fluid changed. It is recommended that transmission fluid be changed every 15,000 miles or once per year.

3. Another way to ensure safe summer driving is to check tire pressure. Tires are heat sensitive, so maintaining proper inflation is a must in the summer months to prevent heat stress. Aging tires can be especially affected by hot weather. Always make sure to check tire pressure prior to embarking on a long trip. Proper tire inflation will also allow your car to get the best gas mileage possible.

4. Also, make sure that all of you vehicle's air conditioning components are in working order. This includes the air-conditioning compressor, condenser, evaporator, and receiver-dryer. These parts should be checked annually by a mechanic and fixed as deemed necessary.

5. And lastly, plan long distance trips according to the weather. For example, if you're traveling a long distance, leave early in the morning or late at night. The cooler morning and nighttime weather will make it easier on your vehicle's engine.

Keeping yourself and your passengers safe:

1. This may seem like a no-brainer, but wear appropriate clothing. Wearing light colored clothing made of natural fiber fabrics will increase breathability and keep you cooler longer. Do you like driving with the windows down? Apply sunscreen if you'll be exposed to the sun for extended amounts of time.

2. Dehydration is dangerous, so stay hydrated. Keep a cooler in your vehicle stocked with cold drinks for everyone. Make sure to keep the sugary drinks at bay and bring on the water and tea.

3. Our current technology-obsessed culture might already have this one covered, but keep your cell phone charged. Portable cell phone chargers will help ensure that your phone remains ready to go in case on an emergency.

4. Using window shades in the backseat windows are a must to protect small children in hot weather conditions. Children are particularly vulnerable to temperature extremes, so extra precautions are necessary.

5. This should go without saying, but don't ever leave children or animals unattended in the car. Perhaps more prevalent than you might think, there have been 579 heatstroke-related deaths of children in the United States since 1998. As for pets, animals can suffer brain damage or even die from heatstroke after just 15 minutes of exposure.

So there you have it. Follow these 10 tips to ensure that you and your vehicle have a safe summer of driving.

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