Blistering heat means tire blowouts, dead car batteries

Auto experts explain what to look for to avoid being stranded

SAN ANTONIO – The excessive heat is taking a toll on cars as auto shops see more blowouts and dead car batteries.

The road temperatures can reach a blistering 160 degrees, leading to summer blowout season. Tire remnants can be seen littering the roadways.

A big culprit is aging tires and low tread, according to Paul Hooge with Thousand Oaks Automotive.

“You have a tire that does not grip. You have a tire that does not have very good traction in wet weather. So it’s very dangerous. It also becomes a blowout hazard when that happens,” Hooge said.

Another common problem is improper inflation. Low tires create more friction and more heat. But overinflated tires can be as problematic because tires need room to expand in the heat.

“You never want to put the tire at maximum PSI,” he said. The recommended inflation level can be found in the door jamb.

Under the hood, the heat can sap the battery.

A car battery should last three years, according to Bryan Vollmer, with Thousand Oaks Automotive. But, the heat can shorten that life.

“Heat can play a big effect on batteries just as winter does,” Vollmer said.

It can cause the water to evaporate, increase corrosion and decrease the battery’s capacity, meaning your car may not start when you need it to.

Vollmer also suggests keeping an eye on the coolant. If it’s low or dirty, it can’t properly cool the engine, leading to overheating.

The hoses can also get dried out and crack, leading to leaks.

One system Vollmer said a lot of customers are wanting serviced now is the air conditioner.

If it feels like it’s not up to par, chances are you’re probably a little low on freon, or you could have a leak,” he said.

Bottom line, the best way to keep your car humming in the heat is preventive maintenance.

Parking in the shade doesn’t hurt, either.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Santiago Esparza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.