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Dangers of Driving in Extremely Hot Weather

Driving in Extremely Hot Weather - Woman driving in a hot day
Steve Thompson Headshot
Steve Thompson
May 6, 2022

Summer heat can create unsafe driving conditions for both drivers and their vehicles. Accidents may occur in numerous ways when driving in extremely hot weather. From the engine and cooling system overheating to blowing out a tire, heat is dangerous and can cause accidents if your car breaks down on the road. Here are important facts to know about the dangers of driving in hot weather.

Heat Can Cause Illness

Woman feeling unwell in the driving seat

One of the most important tips for driving in extreme heat is to be prepared for health issues. Not only can driving in extremely hot weather cause you to dehydrate, but it can also lead to dizziness, sweating, headache, nausea, fatigue, and fainting. In some cases, heat can speed up the driver's heartbeat or culminate in heatstroke. While many drivers carry a first aid kit, it is also a good idea to carry a couple of bottles of water for emergencies.  This is especially important in a place like Nevada, where summer temperatures routinely exceed 110 degrees.  You may also want to consider carrying an umbrella to shade you and your children or pets from the sun if your vehicle breaks down and you have to wait for assistance for any length of time.  Consider wearing or carrying sunscreen, to help protect you from sunburn while driving and in the event of a breakdown.

Excessive heat in general is a driving distraction that can result in an accident. So make sure your air conditioning system works properly to help mitigate the heat. Be aware that driving on highways is safer than on city streets in hot weather because highways are usually better maintained. There are fewer chances to roll over a pothole that causes a tire to blow out.

Car Batteries Can Get Compromised By Heat

Extreme heat can make car batteries less reliable and even cause them to fail. It's crucial to routinely test your battery in the summer so that you don't break down on a road trip. Be sure to inspect your battery for cracks and leaks before leaving on a long journey. In the case of electric vehicles, extreme heat can affect the performance of the batteries and reduce your travel range.

Your Engine and Cooling System Can Get Overheated

Adding coolant to the car

When the coolant level in your cooling system is insufficient, it can lead to system overheating. Make sure to have your cooling system checked before and during the summer months to prevent a breakdown that could result in a car accident. It's helpful to flush the system and completely replace the coolant every few years. You should also have your mechanic examine hoses, belts and the radiator to ensure your cooling system runs smoothly. Be aware that the normal temperature of a running car engine is 195 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let the engine cool for a while if it starts to act strangely or if you see steam escaping from the hood. Pullover and park the vehicle but don't immediately raise the hood if steam is evident. Only add coolant and water when the car has completely cooled down, otherwise, it can damage your engine. Always be aware of your temperature gauge while driving in the summer heat and make sure the needle is balanced between "C" and "H." If it's pointing close to "H," pull over and let the engine cool off.

Your Entire Car Can Get Overheated

Extremely hot temperatures can cause your entire car to become scorching hot to the point that touching metal seat buckles is painful. When your car is too hot to even sit down or touch the steering wheel, it's best to let it cool off for a while. In Nevada, where temperatures are often between 80 and 100 degrees, a car’s interior temperature can easily reach a scorching 130-172 degrees. So if you are transporting children or pets, keep in mind it's safer for them to let the car cool off first before anyone gets in.

Tires are Sensitive to Heat and Can Blow Out

A hot summer day creates the conditions for a possible tire blowout, since tires expand with heat, especially on hot surfaces. Part of proper maintenance is making sure you've inflated tires to the right level, as instructed by the manufacturer. Driving in hot weather can cause old tires with worn treads to burst. That's why it's wise to carry a spare tire, periodically check tire pressure, and store an emergency kit in your vehicle that allows you to switch to a spare. Other items in your kit should be jumper cables, road flares, and a flashlight.

Proper Car Maintenance Helps Prevent Accidents

Car Maintenance

It's best to get car problems diagnosed and repaired right away. Letting multiple issues build-up creates unsafe conditions and may result in a massive repair bill. Make sure all your car's fluids are at the proper levels before a long drive in the burning heat. That includes oil and fluids used in transmission, brakes, and steering. Fluids can thin out due to heat, making them less effective as lubricants. Don't settle for cheap fluids because they may perform less reliably on hot summer days.

If you get into a car accident and are injured be sure to discuss the situation with an experienced legal professional like Sandra Robertson who specializes in auto accidents and can help you win the maximum possible compensation from insurance companies.