The Do’s & Don’ts of Preventing Sun & Heat Damage to Your Car

Man's hands on steering wheel, driving with summer sun streaming through windowYou do your best to prep your car for the cold and ice of winter, but what about the dog days of summer? Don’t let the cheery weather fool you: bright, warm summer days can pose real problems for your car, inside and out. Pay attention to the following do’s and don’ts to head off heat damage, boost your car’s curb appeal, and keep it looking (and running) newer, longer!

DO: Wash it.

You wash your car to keep it looking sharp, but a good sudsy bath can offer more than just cosmetic benefits. It removes dirt and debris that can cause miniature scratches in the car’s body and wash off other destructive residue, such as bird droppings and dead bugs — the acidic content could discolor your car’s paint job. A good wax can also go a long way in keeping your car looking like it just rolled off the lot. Wax protects the car’s paint against UV rays and keeps roadside grime from sticking to your car.

DON’T: Neglect the interior.

If your vehicle’s interior is dusty, it’s time for some light cleaning. Scorching sunlight can bake the grime right into the car’s dashboard and other surfaces. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to clean things up using everyday household materials like dish soap (to scrub away the muck that collects in the texture of vinyl), baking soda (to clean seat belts), and vinegar (to wipe down the windows). When mixed with water, these household solutions can all play a part in keeping your interior free of baked-in-grime.

As always, though, check with your vehicle manufacturer and conduct your own research before using any cleaning supplies in your vehicle. What’s right for your neighbor’s truck may not be right for your vehicle, and vice versa.

Pro-Tip: Stash a microfiber duster in your car to save time cleaning. A few swipes and swooshes can keep your dash dust-free and looking fine!

DO: Seek shade.

Park in the shade whenever possible. Exposure to the summer sun can fade and crack a car’s paint job, rubber trims and seals, as well as its vinyl or leather seats. If shade isn’t an option, put up sun reflectors in the windows to prevent fading and keep the interior temperature from climbing sky high. Parking your car out of direct sunlight can even help protect your fuel economy, reports 12News, since gas evaporates quicker in a hot vehicle than it does in a cold one.

DON’T: Underestimate potential battery damage.

If you think winter is your car battery’s leading enemy, think again. “Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave you stranded without warning,” says Steve Fox, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

Extreme heat causes battery fluid to evaporate and damage battery components, although you might not notice until winter moves in. Why? Engine oil thickens in cold weather, requiring the battery to work harder to start the car. A battery damaged in July may not have the strength to get you to work in February. Don’t leave it to chance: get a free car battery test today.

DO: Have your car inspected by professionals.

Having your car thoroughly inspected before racking up that summer mileage is one of the best ways to prevent irreversible heat damage to your car’s many moving parts. Double check that all fluids are at their manufacturer recommended levels. Confirm that your tire pressure is precisely where it should be, too — poorly inflated tires in high temperatures can lead to dangerous situations. (Psst! Read all about it in What to Know About Summer Driving & Tire Pressure!) Finally, test the air conditioning, which will likely get as much use as the radio. A faulty cooling system can do more than cause you to overheat: it can cause your car to overheat, as well.

Keep your car looking newer with these handy tips and stop by your local Firestone Complete Auto Care to let our experienced technicians keep your car running newer, longer, with a free checkup! Our courtesy checkups include an examination of your tires, fluid levels, car battery, and more. We can even let you know at what temperature your battery is likely to fail. Find your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care and stop by for a free car battery test and checkup today! Come rain, shine, or heat wave, we’re here to help you get the most out of your car.

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