Extreme weather is the ultimate test for your vehicle
Extreme weather will test our vehicles. If there is a weakness, excessively hot or cold weather may bring that weakness to the forefront. Belts and hoses that are on the brink, radiators and coolant/antifreeze that are no longer operating at their peak performance, engine thermostats that are stuck: these are just a few of the issues that may float below the surface on days when the weather is mild. But, when the thermometer approaches, or passes, 100-degrees, they are pushed over the edge.
You’ll see evidence of these problems on the side of the road – hoods up, possibly with steam rising from the engine. Of course, that assumes it isn’t your vehicle that cracks under the stress of weather extremes, in which case it may be your hood that is up. When it’s 100 degrees outside, that’s not a good time to find yourself stuck somewhere with no relief from the heat.
As bad or worse than finding yourself stuck somewhere is the potential costs associated with these problems. The costs can go well beyond towing and simple repairs.
Take, for instance, what happens when a radiator hose bursts. For a while, you may drive along oblivious to the problem. You may notice the smell of escaping coolant. Eventually, if it is working correctly, the temperature light will come on in your dashboard. If you don’t pull over then on your own, the car may decide to pull over. The engine may stammer to a stop.
When the engine balks, that’s a very bad sign. Hopefully, it’s not a catastrophic event where an engine seizes and begs for replacement. However, even if you’re fortunate enough that your engine survives to run another day the level of damage to the engine is excessive. You may find that the occurrence has taken miles out of the life of your engine. It may not run as well and may even suffer lower performance in terms of gas mileage.
The key, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, is an ounce of prevention. You don’t have to wait until the heat tears the heart out of your vehicle.
Ask yourself a few key questions:
When did you last have the oil changed (if the oil is old and dirty, overheating will cause more damage quicker)?
Have you had your belts and hoses checked recently?
Is your coolant up to snuff?
Is your thermostat operating at prescribed temperatures? The thermostat is designed to open at a certain temperature so the coolant will run through the radiator. If it remains closed too long, the engine overheats.
These are the basic questions to consider. However, it doesn’t hurt to consider other issues, as well. When did you last have the engine tuned? Are the tires in good shape and at the proper air pressure (be sure you don’t check the air pressure when the tires are hot – after driving any appreciable time – this will affect the air pressure reading)?
While you can perform checks on some of these issues yourself, you may want to bring your vehicle to a certified auto repair specialist, such as those at Performance Unlimited in Ringwood. In the industrial park west of Route 31 between McHenry and Richmond, the auto repair specialists at Performance Unlimited are experts at keeping your car in optimal operating performance.
For more information, call Performance Unlimited at 815-728-5040 or visit www.4performanceunlimited.com.