Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail: nutechauto@telus.net.

Simpler steps for vehicle care in summer heat

Some simple steps will go a long way to letting your vehicle weather the summer

Who turned on the heat? We are well into the extremes of summer. It is a good idea to take pity on your vehicle. Some simple steps will go a long way to letting your vehicle weather the summer.

Modern vehicles do a very good job of disguising their feelings. Under pressure they are stalwart but maybe in appearance only. There is a lot going on under their skin.

I notice that most vehicles I drive have a coolant temperature gauge. When I drive those vehicles that gauge goes to the middle of a temperature range, say 90 degrees Celsius, and does not waver uphill or downhill, 35 degree Celsius day or 20 degree Celsius day. Is that possible? Not likely.

I have learned that the marketing department asked the engineering department to make that needle stay right at 90. So, yes, if you get your vehicle too hot that needle will go to the red zone but it won’t move above 90 until it is really 110.

When you are climbing the Paulson on a 30 degree day pulling your trailer that temperature gauge may be reading “no sweat” but believe me some serious sweating is going on. You don’t have to climb the hill at the speed limit just because you can. Lay off the throttle, gear down and take it easy.

It is not very likely that your vehicle reads engine oil temperature as well as coolant temperature but engine oil is just as important in the keeping your engine cool department. If your engine holds five litres of oil and it only has four litres in it that oil is going to get hotter.

Check your oil frequently and keep it full.

Staying out of the sun on a really hot day is good for humans and also good for vehicles. A parked windows closed vehicle turns into an oven quickly. There are components inside that suffer as the temperature sores.

Plastics can melt and crack. Electronics can reach temperatures at which they simply won’t function. I have seen lcd displays stop working. Have pity on your vehicle if you have to park in the sun. Use window or windshield shades. Leave the windows cracked open.

On super hot days you may notice that your vehicle is not as powerful. Hot air is light on the oxygen content. The molecules are further apart. The engine is hotter (despite what the temperature gauge says). A hot engine short on oxygen may prefer premium fuel. It won’t come out and tell you unless you actually hear it knocking or pinging.

Modern automobiles recognize knocking and pinging and respond by making adjustments to stop those destructive abnormal combustion events. Those adjustments reduce power and fuel economy. If the adjustments reach their limit knocking and pinging may persist and destruction of your engine is possible. Premium fuel reduces the tendency to knock or ping. Maybe the summer is time to splurge on premium fuel for your workhorse vehicle.

At any rate summer is time to explore beautiful BC. Slow down, take breaks and take time to explore. Your vehicle will thank you.