Driving in Hot Weather

safety | April 30, 2019

All drivers have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road, drive safely, and maintain safe practices for current conditions. Every driver will inevitably need to drive in inclement or unpleasant weather at some point. While many drivers dread the thought of driving through snow, many others find it equally unbearable to drive in hot weather. Driving in the heat can be dangerous, so all drivers should have basic working knowledge of how to drive properly in hot weather.

Is It Safe to Drive in Extreme Heat?

Hot weather is dangerous for several reasons. Human beings should not linger in direct sunlight for too long without adequate protection, and riding inside of a vehicle may appear to be sufficient coverage while exposing a driver to more ultraviolet rays and sun damage than he or she realizes. It is generally best to avoid driving in extreme heat whenever possible. However, some drivers will eventually need to drive in excessive heat.

Drivers in this situation should take time to prepare the vehicle before leaving. Allowing the air conditioning to run for a minute or two before leaving will help it cool the air faster. Drivers should also stay hydrated and always bring water for long trips. Ultimately, every driver must use good judgment in deciding whether he or she feels comfortable driving in extreme heat.

Can Hot Weather Damage a Car?

Hot weather can not only cause major medical issues for drivers but also damage a driver’s vehicle. Failure to properly maintain a vehicle could lead to catastrophic failures on the road, and excessive heat can sometimes cause serious problems while driving. For example, the air inside of a vehicle’s tires will expand in a hot environment. If a driver overinflates a tire without accounting for this natural expansion, the tire could burst while driving after a few miles on a hot road.

Consistent sun damage can also cause a vehicle’s paint to fade or even chip away, eventually exposing the underlying materials to water damage and deterioration from exposure. Most vehicle owners who live in hot, sunbaked climates invest in car covers to protect their vehicles’ paint while parked.

Tips and Best Practices for Safer Hot Weather Driving

Drivers should keep a few best practices in mind before driving during hot weather:

Check the Vehicle’s Battery

A corroded or weakened battery is more likely to fail from extreme heat exposure.

Check the Cooling System

If your vehicle’s coolant is old and ineffective, your vehicle’s cooling system may not function properly and cause your vehicle to overheat very quickly.

Check Tire Pressure

Overinflated tires can burst due to heat expansion. Under-inflated tires are vulnerable to excessive friction, which also builds heat.

Check the Fluid System

Excessive heat strains all of your vehicle’s fluid systems, not just the coolant. Check transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and oil regularly.

Check the Climate Control System

If your vehicle’s air conditioner does not work properly, you and your passengers will probably be very uncomfortable during a trip in excessive heat. Some drivers like rolling their windows down to enjoy the breeze, but this is not a viable option for many drivers. Make sure your air conditioning system works properly before any long trip in high heat.

Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle

This kit should include first aid supplies as well as vehicle repair tools, signaling tools like flares and hazard signs, and water. You may also want to consider taking extra oil or other fluids for long trips, but be wary of storing certain chemicals in a hot car and always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings for proper handling and storage of vehicle fluids.

These are just a few tips for safer hot weather driving. All drivers should use their best judgment when it comes to trips in excessive heat to lower the risk of heat-related illness or injury. If you or a loved one are injured or become sick due to another’s negligence, contact us. The Sacramento personal injury lawyers at Rosenthal Law have the skill and experience to help you recover the compensation you deserve.