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Getting your vehicle ready for summer driving.

vw cars summerAs summer comes upon us, here are a few good tips to keep in mind before traveling long distances. Nothing is worse to disrupt a vacation or any travel than an unplanned breakdown.

On a day to day base, getting into a hot vehicle is uncomfortable. The inside can reach over 140 degrees.

To cool the vehicle inside quickly, roll down the window for the first minute or two of driving to get some of the very hot air out. The complete interior can be as high as 140 degrees and to get it to the comfortable temperature of 70 degrees will often take 20 minutes so be patient.

On this note, never leave children or animals inside a vehicle with the windows up. It’s a greenhouse in there and can kill quickly.

Getting your vehicle ready for a trip during the hot weather can make a vacation much more stress free.

The first stop should be your favorite repair shop, having them do a pre-trip check. This is most important for vehicles over 80,000 miles or those who have not taken good preventive care of their car.

The most important focus should be the cooling system of your vehicle. About 85% of all major engine damage happens when an engine overheats. The cooling system is one of the largest systems of your vehicle. Your repair shop should pay special attention to all the cooling hoses, water pump, radiator and other parts of the system. Newer vehicles use a lot of plastic in the cooling system that gets brittle with age. If one plastic part breaks, it is a very good idea to replace all of the plastic parts of the cooling system at once. That includes a lot of water pumps because they have plastic impellers.

One of the stress tests I have recommended is hitting the upper radiator inlet with a hammer lightly. If it breaks, time to replace a radiator and all the plastic pieces of the cooling system at a convenient time.

An owner’s part in helping the shop diagnose a cooling system is to observe where the temperature gauge settles in after a long hot drive. This is hard to duplicate in the shop or in town driving. Slightly plugged radiators are often not found without the customers input that after freeway driving, the gauge reads high.

Tires, fluids and services will be checked during this inspection. If you have service records from other shops, be sure to let the shop see them so they can make informed decisions of what needs to be done.

It is so much easier to be at home doing repairs then holding up in a motel while the car is getting fixed.


It seems like every time a newspaper is read, there is news of a recall. Keep in mind, a recall is always safety related. If this parts goes bad, as there is reports defective parts, injury or death could happen.

One of the questions that I’m asked, are the vehicle’s manufactories cutting corners or not caring.

My answer is always the same. A vehicle is a very complex, tens of thousands of problems can occur. Each and every vehicle manufacture uses well over 500 difference companies to supply parts for the finished product. Then throw in that this vehicle has incredible different conditions to endure. Temperature variations from -30 to over 130 degrees, rain, pot holes, corrosion from salt, snow, ice, speeds up to well, fast, braking systems, lots of possibilities. The list goes on and on about all the challenges that can happen. The Ford Pinto got very bad reviews and had recalls from getting rear ended at speeds about 40 miles per hour, the fuel tank would explode. Bad design, yes, history has told us that but as an engineer, planning that much kinetic energy going into the rear of a vehicle would be hard to plan for.

Vehicles recalls

The possibilities are so incredible vast of making an engineering mistake or defective manufacturing, it is incredible that vehicles are so “recall” free.

What is needed is better tracking and ownership of defects so as to protect drivers.

Newer vehicles for young drivers.

I have talked a lot about getting young drivers, that is your children, newer cars when first driving.I like what one of my radio listeners, Blaine Hlebechuk, with the Oregon State Police wrote.“Collisions are the number one cause of death for young adults. Newer cars have advanced safety features. Crumple zones help to lengthen the collision. Meaning they decrease the delta V.”Definition of delta V :In general physics, delta-v is simply a change in velocity


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