Hot Car: Summer in the Civic

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Summer is here, and our cars are scalding. Those beautiful, black leather seats that made us so happy in the fall have now become a seething reminder of the sun’s incomprehensible power. The wood-trim steering wheels we negotiated to get a deal on are wreaking their revenge on our fingers. The black-on-black beauty we put our hard-earned cash into modifying now laughs every time we unlock it, anticipating the speed with which we will drive it home to avoid succumbing to heatstroke.

It’s hot, folks. It’s don’t play with fireworks, don’t leave your dog in the car, don’t leave your chocolate outside the fridge hot. And if, in some small way, we can help you avoid the warm-weather mistakes we made when we bought our cars, if you value staying cool in your vehicle even more than you value looking cool in your vehicle, we’re here to help.

The biggest consideration to make if you want the ultimate summer weather warrior is color. Studies show that white cars can reflect as much as 60% of the sun’s rays, while black cars can only reflect as much as 5%. That’s a pretty dramatic gulf, and it bears out in real world settings as well. If you parked a black Mustang and a white Mustang side by side on a hot summer day, the black Mustang would likely be around 20 degrees hotter than the white one, and it would take longer to cool with AC as well!

Another element to consider is the color of the interior. Cloth or leather, light-colored interior retain less heat than dark-colored interiors. If interior temperature is a serious consideration for you, you’d do well to start liking light-colored vehicles.

You may prefer red cars because of your psychology. You may prefer dark interiors because of your aesthetic inclinations. But if you prefer cars that stay as cool as possible in the summer, you’ll want to go with something white – it’s just basic physics.

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Warm Weather Driving Prep: Get Your Vehicle Set for Summer

Summer’s a’comin’! So, it’s time again to treat your vehicle to a little TLC. Last November, we posted a list of everything you might need to tackle winter driving conditions. Now that the studded and snow tires have (hopefully) been removed, here’s how to travel worry free into the warmer months:

1. Check tires. Remove and store your winter tires, and rotate all-season radials.

2. Check tire pressure. And check again. Because air pressure increases with temperature you’ll want to check your tire pressure more frequently during the summer months.

3. Check  brakes for noise. You’re looking for grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter. Excessive amounts of any or all mean it’s time to invest in new ones.

4. Replace windshield wiper blades. They took a beating over the winter.

5. Wash it!  And not just the parts you can see. Spray the underbody and undersides of both bumpers to get rid of build-up. As for the body, wash it in the shade. Then wax it. But wait until it’s completely dry before doing so.

6. Apply “sunscreen”. Hours in the sun can result in the cracking of any vinyl surface or the fading of cloth. Apply a protectant… reapply when needed.

7. Clean – and clean OUT – the interior. You don’t want your old trash blowing around when it’s finally warm enough to drive with the windows down.

8. Change the oil. Consider synthetics… they’re specifically designed for warm weather engine protection.

9. Check all fluids. That means brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windshield washer fluid. Replace, or refill, to proper levels.

10. Test the AC.

11. Examine belts and hoses for wear or deterioration.

12. Consider assembling a car care kit, if you don’t already have one. Include a couple large bottles of water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools, and a first aid kit. Maybe throw in a blanket, just in case.

Finally, be aware that heat often makes people uncomfortable and thus, irritated.  Irritated drivers tend to be impatient and less apt to pay attention. Give drivers their space and stay alert.

Now all that’s left to do is plan a road trip! Happy travels!

(To read up on Winter Driving Preparations, visit: https://butlerautogroup.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/oh-no-snow-everything-you-and-your-vehicle-need-for-winter-driving/)

Rain or Shine: The Allure of the Road Trip

June.  The word conjures up images of lengthening days, BBQs, fresh sunburns, and water sports… at least, those are the contents of the dream bubble above my head.  The reality is that this first day of June is marked by a ridiculously low snow level, horizontal rain and a temperature somewhere between “chilly” and “absurd.”  All the activities typically associated with summer have yet to become feasible.  All except one: the road trip.

Don’t get me wrong – warm, dry weather is ideal for packing up the family wagon and heading for parts unknown (or known, if that’s what you prefer).  But there’s something about inclement weather (tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes excepted) that can enhance the adventure.  Maybe it’s the mystery… Oregon’s down-comforter fog makes knowing what’s around the next bend next to impossible.    Maybe it’s the coziness factor… there’s something nurturing about being confined in a temperature-controlled vehicle while wind and rain whirl outside.  Or maybe it’s just that the feeling of freedom brought on by a few unscheduled days, a full tank of gas, and an open road doesn’t fade away just because blue skies do.

So, check the oil and the tire pressure, pack for a night or two out of town, throw in the I-Pod and a random assortment of snacks, and let’s see where the road takes us.  If we’re lucky, we might find the sun.

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