Keep Your Car Cool This Summer

Is there anything worse than a hot, stuffy car in the summer? You may enjoy spending time outdoors during the summer months, but the heat and sun can make driving around intolerable, as your car may feel like an oven when you get in and take what feels like an eternity to cool down to a comfortable temperature.

Fortunately, if you are wondering how to keep your car cool during summer, there are plenty of simple things you can do. From maximizing your air conditioning to taking advantage of a shady spot when parking, the following tips can help you maintain a cooler vehicle on those hot and humid summer days.

Windows

Car windows can act like a greenhouse, holding in heat and sunlight. Even if it is only in the 60s outside, the direct sunlight through the windows can cause the interior temperature to increase to 110 degrees.

Knowing this, there are a few ways to help keep your car cool by reducing the amount of heat entering through your windows:

  • Sun shades: Sun shades are a great investment because they block the direct rays coming into your vehicle. This keeps the temperature slightly lower, which can help your car cool down more quickly once the vehicle is started.
  • Tinted windows: A more expensive, yet constant way to block the sun, is with window tinting. But before you take your car in to have the windows darkened, make sure you know your state’s laws, as some have restrictions on how much or which windows you can tint.
  • Covered parking: If you don’t have tinted windows or a sun shade, a helpful alternative may simply be parking in the shade. Consumer Reports suggests looking for a shady spot or parking your car so the sun is hitting the rear window instead of the windshield. This may help keep the steering wheel and front seats slightly cooler.
  • Cracked windows: Because windows hold in warm air, leaving them open slightly while parked will create slight airflow. If your vehicle has a sunroof,  you can also crack that or use the vent feature if it’s not raining. For both windows and sunroofs, only leave them open slightly (less than an inch) to minimize the possibility of theft.

Seats

Scorching seats can cause discomfort or even. For this reason, you might consider purchasing a vehicle with cloth seats instead of leather. If it’s in your budget, you might also look into buying a vehicle with air-conditioned seats, which circulate cool air around your backside. Typically, this works by utilizing a porous mesh on the car seat so air can flow through it. Fans inside the seat produce air circulation, which is diffused to spread the cooling effect throughout the seat and through the mesh, cooling the seat’s surface. For those who already have leather but need a way to keep it cooler, purchase cooling gel covers or pads. Simply covering leather seats with towels can provide a bit on insulation between you and the hot seat.

Air Conditioning

If your vehicle’s air conditioning isn’t functioning properly or you don’t use it in the most efficient way, it may take longer than you would like for your car to reach a comfortable temperature. To maximize your car’s cooling ability, turn the air on full blast as soon as you start the engine and slightly opening all of your windows until the air inside is cool. This helps to improve cooling efficiency as the hot air (which rises) will be pushed out of the windows as the cool air comes out of the vents. Once you’ve achieved your desired temperature, Cars.com says you should use the car’s air recirculating feature along with the air conditioning to maintain the coldest air.

How To Maintain Your Car In The Summer

You may know about “winterizing” your vehicle, but do you “summer-ize” your vehicle? Summertime is here, and that means summer vacations and summer travel season. But long drives, especially in extreme heat, can be rough on your vehicle. Before you hit the road for your favorite summer destinations, check out this list of maintenance suggestions:

10. Check your tires. Tire pressure changes with rising temperatures approximately one to two PSI for every 10 degree increase in outside air temperature. An under-inflated tire bulges outward and puts undo pressure on the tire sidewall. With enough heat and pressure, the tire will eventually blow. Over-inflated tires make less contact with the road surface and can cause hydroplaning during summer thunderstorms.

 9. Change oil and oil filter. Oil keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Before you take that long distance summer road trip, check your oil. Heavy driving mixed with high temperatures can lead to an overheated engine.

 8. De-Winterize your car. Lose the snow tires. Snow tires are heavy and will lower your fuel economy. If you haven’t driven your car very much during the winter months, it is a good idea to check all the fluid levels to make sure that there aren’t any leaks. It’s also important to clean the undercarriage of the car, especially if you are in a snowy climate. The salt that is used to melt ice and snow on roads can get caked on the underside of your car and begin to eat away at the metal.

 7. Check hoses and belts. The key to successful summer driving is keeping the engine cool. If hoses crack or belts snap, the radiator can quickly overheat. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections as well as doing visual checks on belts for cracks and damages.

 6. Change the air filter. Over the winter, your air filter can get clogged with salt and road debris. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.

 5. Replace your windshield wipers. The summer months are notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When water is beating against your windshield in buckets, your wipers NEED to work. This is true in daytime, but more so at night, when a storm can decrease visibility by 15 to 20 feet in front of your vehicle.

 4. Check your brakes. Your brakes are probably the single most important safety mechanism on your car. If you notice a brake problem, it pays to have it inspected or repaired as soon as possible. The cost of a brake repair service increases dramatically if even minor problems aren’t fixed in a timely manner.

 3. Check the coolant and radiator. Cars are designed to run pretty hot, but there is a limit to just how hot they should run. If an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of engine problems.

 2. Clean your battery. Dead batteries are fairly common during the winter months. But the hot summer months are tough on your battery, too. Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing the battery to be overcharged. This significantly reduces battery life. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals. Make sure that the battery is strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure. If you need to replace your battery, make sure it is the right battery type for your specific vehicle.

 1. Maintain your air conditioning. The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused by a leak in the system. Since modern AC systems are complex, it’s best to have a professional check out the problem.

How Long Will My Tires Last?

 

When do you need to replace your tires? We would expect at least 50,000 miles from the tires that come with any new vehicle, but tire life depends on many factors. Here are some broad guidelines.

Among the factors are the quality of the tire, the treadwear rating, whether it is a performance summer tire or an all-season tire, the type of vehicle it is mounted on and how it is driven. Performance tires may grip like leeches on dry pavement, but they tend to wear out faster than tires with less rolling resistance. If you drive your vehicle like you just stole it that also will wear tires faster.

Driving for extended periods on underinflated tires shortens their lifespan, as will driving a vehicle whose wheels are out of alignment. If you never or seldom have your tires rotated, that also can accelerate wear, especially the tires mounted in front on a front-wheel-drive vehicle. They not only carry most of the vehicle’s weight but also carry most of the load in braking, cornering and jackrabbit starts.

Some additional guidelines: You don’t have to spend lavishly on tires, but don’t automatically buy the cheapest ones either. Tires are the only part of your vehicle that are supposed to touch the ground, so make sure they’re up to the task. Choose tires that have high treadwear and traction ratings, and bear in mind that performance tires with higher speed ratings may not last long. A balanced combination of wet traction, ride comfort, low noise levels and a high treadwear rating will probably be your best bet.

Your Dog and Road Trips

With summer almost at an end and back-to-school on the horizon, I know what you’re thinking: “Gimme a hotdog – I’ll worry about getting into that swimsuit next year.” Or maybe that’s just me. The other thing I’m thinking is: “Road trip!” Let’s have one last hurrah before it’s back to business as usual. If you’re like me, you’ll want to bring your four-legged friends on the trip with you. After all, they’re part of the family, too. Taking pets along when you travel does involve making a few more plans, but it’s worth it to be able to bond together over new adventures. To make your planning a little easier, here’s seven ways to make your trip safe and fun when you travel with your pets.

1. Check with your vet before you travel.

Dogs or cats who had health issues in the past may not be good candidates for travel. In these instances, boarding may be the best choice. Even healthy pets may require a variety of items before flying or road trips. Depending on your destination, your pet may need extra vaccines or health certificates to travel. Your vet can help you determine which, if any, additional steps to take.

2. Pack ample food and water for your pet’s trip. 

Grocery and supply stores along your route may not stock the right food, so make sure to pack enough with you to last the length of your trip. Also, pack water as well as refillable containers for replenishing when needed. And don’t forget to pack water and food bowls for serving on the road.

3. Traveling long distances with your pet? Practice makes perfect.

Many pets are comfortable riding around town in your car as these are often quick trips that can sometimes lead to fun. Long road trips, however, can be an entirely different matter. A good way to ensure your trip goes smoothly is to do some practice runs. Take your dog or cat on a longer ride than normal and have them sit where they would during the trip. How they behave will tell you how they’ll react to the real trip out of town. It’s important to remember that some pets, like people, can get carsick – a critical piece of information to have before taking your pet on a long journey.

4. For your pet’s safety, and yours, use a restraint when traveling.

For cats, this means they ride in a carrier that is secured to the seat or placed on the floor. For dogs, this means riding in a carrier or a safety restraint system made just for this purpose.

5. When traveling with your pet, make time for play and potty.

A lot of what makes road trips fun are the interesting stops along the way. Stop every 2-3 hours to give your pet the chance to stretch, walk and relieve themselves. Bring their favorite balls and toys and take a few minutes to incorporate training, play and running. Find out if there are dog parks or safe places to run along your route. This will make travel interesting and fun for pets.

6. Traveling with your pet by air? Know the rules.

There are regulations and fees associated with flying with a pet. Some airlines allow you to bring your pet into the cabin; some don’t. Similarly, not all airlines have the same track records for safely transporting pets who travel in cargo. Make sure you research this carefully and feel comfortable about your choice before you fly. Most airlines have information about traveling with pets right on their websites, but it’s best to call and talk to a representative to make sure you clearly understand the procedures involved. Often you will have to book pet travel directly with a representative of the airline anyway.

7. Always, but especially when traveling, pets should wear ID.

Safeguard your pet from the unthinkable. Invest the time to chip and register your pet or update your pets’ registration, and make sure your pet wears a collar and tag with your current phone number at all times. Since you’re traveling, it should be a number that travels with you, such as a cell phone.

Last but not least, have fun! See new sights, sniff new things and enjoy all this great big world has to offer with your best friend at your side.

Road Tripping With Kids and Preserving Your Sanity

When it comes to a road trip, it’s often about how you get there, not where you’re going. Make sure that journey is memorable for the right reasons with a few tips and tricks we’ve road-tested ourselves. They might not prevent the inevitable “Are we there yet?” but we know they will ease some of the other trials of taking a long car ride with kids.

1. Give the kids the map. Hand over your GPS during times of the trip where you actually know where you are going. Let the kids “navigate” and tell you which way to turn. Or hand them a road map and have them help figure out the route. Get tips on teaching kids how to read a REAL map here.

2. Bring enough headphones for each kid. It will ward off any complaining or whining. If your crew likes to listen to or watch the same thing, try BuddyPhones, kid headphones that come with an audio splitter for sharing.

3. Surprise observations. During the trip, have each person write down an observation or memory from the day. If you’re traveling more than one day, do it each day of the journey, there and back. Don’t share what you’ve written until you are home. Then have each family member read out loud their main “thought” for the day. It’s okay if it’s, “I wish we were there” or “I saw a giant clown on the side of the road.” You’ll get some laughs and relive the trip in a new way.

4. Use a shower caddy for mess-free eating. Tired of balancing lunch on your lap? Give each kid—and yourself—a caddy so that meals are contained in one neat place.

5. Stash plastic cutlery and napkins in the glove box. It’ll make eating in the car that much easier.

6. Make a killer playlist. It can make or break the road trip. Trust us. Find fam friendly tunes, starting here.

7. Beat the sniffles. Use a rubber band to lash a full tissue box to an empty one. Use the empty one to dispose of used tissues right after using, so they don’t end up all over the car/on the floor/in your snacks.

8. Make up some car bingo. Purchase a stack of ready-made car bingo games, or go the simple route by making a “checklist” of cool things you see on the road. The first person to fill up a checklist gets to pick where you pit stop for dinner.

9. Hang a shoe organizer on the back of each front seat. Big kids will be able to reach for books, snacks, and games on their own (and ideally they’ll be able to put everything back, too).

10. Download Sit or Squat. You’ll be able to scout clean bathrooms on your route.