As temps go up, so do car repairs — make sure your car is ready for summer

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Summertime’s hot weather is tougher on your vehicle than cold weather and the higher temperatures bring their own special problems to car parts.

Mechanics say heat is worse for a car than cold, in part because it puts more stress on vehicle parts.

Repair shops say when the temperatures go up, so do numbers of repair jobs they are called on to do.

“Everything is working harder,” explained Seth McKinney of North Hills Tire Pro’s repair shop in Raleigh. “All the electrical components are working harder, straining to keep everything functioning as it should.”


Air conditioning keeps you cool, but air conditioning components like compressors are especially susceptible to the heat.

“We’ve probably replaced 20 compressors in the last two weeks. That’s a lot of compressors,” said McKinney.

Older batteries don’t like the heat.

“More than likely, if it’s a weak battery, the heat will take it out,” McKinney said.

Alternators are a weak point that the hot weather can take a toll on.

“They have a bunch of brushes and components. As they get hot it causes them to burn out,” said McKinney. “We’ve replaced a ton of alternators recently.”

Fluids need to be checked, as well as hoses and especially the radiator itself.

“Radiators these days are plastic. They expand and contract and they can crack which will cause a loss of coolant,” said McKinney.

Also check your tires. Believe it or not, the excessive summer heat can wear them out faster if they’re under-inflated.

“It’s going to cause them to wear on the outside edge,” said McKinney. “If you’re putting lots of miles on your vehicle, especially going on vacation, a lot of miles can add up and once they’re worn there is no way to fix them.”

Under-inflation also causes a tire to heat up more than it should, which can result in blowouts.

You have also got to be prepared for a heat-related breakdown in an isolated area, where you might have to wait a while for help to arrive.

“You need to be prepared with items inside your car,” says Sandra Horton the branch manager of the AAA in Raleigh. “A first aid kit, bottles of water, flashlight and flares — anything that could protect you if you have to get out of the vehicle.”

And in hot, humid conditions even the best air conditioning is going to take a while to cool you down.

“The condenser is what keeps the vehicle cool and until the air is pushed across it and it’s cool enough to keep it going, it’s going to blow hot air. Don’t be too alarmed,” said McKinney.

Your best protection for hot weather driving is to have your repair shop do a “once-over checkup” where a mechanic can spot developing problems before the heat makes them worse.

Make sure your car is ready for the high heat. Here’s a link to tips from AAA.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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