Tips to make sure your car keeps its cool in hot weather

There's nothing more nice than being inside your air conditioned car on a hot day, staying cool and comfortable.

But there's also nothing like your car overheating or having a heat-related breakdown, which could have you standing by the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.

Cars are so good today, you'd almost think they don't need attention. But they do, especially when the temperatures soar.

Everyone knows about getting the oil changed, but what about the engine coolant? It doesn't last forever, and is critical to helping the engine perform as it should in the heat. Even so-called long-life coolant does break down and get dirty eventually, and deteriorated coolant can play havoc with your engine and could lead to a costly repair bill.

Is your air conditioner not blowing cold like it used to? It might need servicing by a qualified professional.

While it may have worked fine when it was 75 degrees outside, 95-plus temperatures are another story.

Don't wait until it fails completely, or you'll be miserable behind the wheel. Also, repair shops that specialize in air conditioning repair tend to get flooded with customers after several days of very hot weather. It's best to get your A/C looked at when you first suspect trouble.

And don't overlook your car's battery. They don't last forever, and while everyone thinks of them failing when it's cold out, hot weather is actually harder on them. Typically, a car battery will last about five years or so. If yours is much older, it may be on borrowed time. Very hot under-hood temperatures can cause an old battery to fail when your car is stopped for a short time, and you'd then need to wait for a roadside assistance jump start.

Finally, have your tires inspected, especially before a road trip. A combination of low air pressure and scorching hot pavement can spell disaster out on the highway. Get them checked for peace of mind. Tire pressure monitoring systems are good, but not all cars on the road have them.

Properly inflated tires will also last longer, and can help your car's fuel efficiency as well.

If you're unsure of your car's maintenance schedule for things like coolant flushing and replacement, most every car has this information in the owner's manual.
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