How to make sure your car is safe during extreme heat

This image shows the engine of a car.

Now that we’re approaching the peak of summer in Hong Kong’s, many of you are probably thinking about going on long road trips - especially since COVID-19 has deterred people from traveling abroad on holiday. While summer is a great time for exploring the outdoors by car, it is important that you know how to keep your car safe if the temperature rises and what to do if your car overheats. In today’s Kwiksure article, we’ll provide you with five easy tips.

1. Park your car in the shade as much as possible to prevent water and fuel evaporation. 

One of the most straightforward (and most intuitive) things to do when it gets warmer is to park your car in the shade as exposure to sunlight is a major cause of overheating. Not only will this make it more pleasant to get back in your car, but it also prevents the evaporation of water in the batteries and fuel from the fuel tank. 

Batteries (water):

The car’s battery consists of water and acid - so when the temperature rises, expect the water to evaporate at a faster rate and the lead plates to be left exposed. When the temperature eventually lowers again, you’ll find that the battery will have little amperage to start the car. You also want to ensure that the heat does not damage the amperage. 

Fuel:

Likewise, extreme heat can also cause the car’s oil to evaporate at a faster rate. This is bad for the environment as 20% of all hydrocarbon emissions from cars are due to fuel emissions. What’s more, it’s also bad for your wallet. Even though most new cars have advanced (evaporative emission control) EVAP systems to prevent excess evaporation, try to avoid pressurizing the system by staying out of direct sunlight.

Bonus tip for fuel: 

Apart from parking in the shade, there are two more things you can do to prevent fuel evaporation. Firstly, ensure the fuel cap is tightly secured. This will slow down the evaporation process. Secondly, fill up your fuel tank early in the morning or later at night. That’s when the weather is coolest, which makes evaporation less prevalent. 

2. Keep an eye on your car’s engine’s heat levels.

It’s vital that the car’s engines remain at the recommended heat level as otherwise a lot of damage can be done. The coolant system is responsible for regulating heat and it consists of a radiator, a water pump, an overflow reservoir, a thermostat, a temperature gauge, hoses, and channels. 

One quick way to tell if your engine is starting to overheat is to see if your car's air conditioning works well when turned on. If not, check the temperature gauge. Additionally, take note of any damage to the radiator or hoses - this may cause the coolant to leak, which causes the engine temperature to rise even more. 

3. Check your car’s tire pressure. 

Heat tends to dry tires out and makes a blowout more likely. In addition to this, heat can also damage the rubber of your tires - particularly if they haven’t been inflated properly. Therefore, it's advisable to check your car's tire pressure regularly and adjust air levels when the outdoor temperature starts to rise.

Remember not to over inflate the tires because that may cause the center of your tire to wear down faster than the outer edges and vice versa. You want to ensure the tires are riding on a more even surface area. Furthermore, note that extreme heat can also cause tires to inflate about two to three pounds extra which increases the risk of overinflation and blowouts. 

4. Fill up your car’s oil tank to the proper levels and keep small dust particles out.

A common fear is that a fuel tank may explode if you fill it up when the heat level rises - but, fortunately, this is nothing but a myth. However, the real problem is when dust particles (which are more common in the summer months) enter the oil. The car’s oil filter tries to keep these out of the motor, but is not always successful. 

To ensure the highest levels of protection, try to change the car oil more often when the weather is warmer - especially if you’re going to be driving on dusty roads. You’ll be able to spot your coolant through a transparent reservoir. It’s easily recognizable as it's usually a green or orange color. Make sure it's filled to the fill line and there is no debris in it. If in doubt, contact a car mechanic. 

5. Understand common troubleshooting methods if your car overheats

Of course, prevention can only go so far as you can’t control the outside temperature. If overheating does occur in your car’s engine, you may need to take immediate action to fix it. Here are a couple of troubleshooting methods for you to keep in mind. 

You’ll have to make sure you have these spare materials in case you need it: 

  • Coolant (50-50 premix)
  • Hook up wire (3 ft)
  • Radiator hoses 
  • Replacement fan relay
  • Replacement radiator cap
  • Split-free funnel

6. Insure your car using a reputable insurance company 

If there’s a major issue that you can’t fix with your DIY tool kit, you may need to get the car towed to a garage and have repair work done. It is a tiresome process if you don’t have a good car insurance plan. That’s where Kwiksure comes in. We’re an established and reputable motor insurance broker in Hong Kong with over two decades of experience.

Our exceptional service helps clients find motor insurance that suits their needs and budget. Feel free to use our online quotation system to get quotes. If you’d rather speak to us, we will also be able to provide you with impartial insurance advice and help you compare plans. Contact us today!