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The weird car issues mechanics are seeing during heat waves

Dec 15, 2023

by: Kelsey Thompson

Posted: Jul 30, 2023 / 01:46 PM PDT

Updated: Jul 30, 2023 / 03:51 PM PDT

It’s no surprise that the summer heat can do significant damage to your vehicle. But as cities around the country continue to break temperature records and endure long heat waves, some car technicians are finding unusual vehicle issues, KTLA’s sister station KXAN reports.

Doc Watson, a national training manager with Bosch Diagnostics, said typical summertime issues include dead car batteries and flat tires. However, he said technicians in Texas and along the West Coast have also been recording more unusual vehicle complications due to the extensive heat waves.

In Texas, Arizona and California, technicians are reporting an emergence of “brake fade” cases in cars. When the temperature outside tops 100 degrees for extended periods of time, temperatures under the hood of vehicles during the summer can reach up to 230 degrees.

Brake fluids inside the cylinder under the hood of the car can absorb moisture, as the heat causes that moisture to expand within the fluid. When that happens, stepping on the brake pedal can feel “mushy.” That means the vehicle owner will need to take the car in for maintenance.

Both heat and humidity can add extra wear and tear to the windshield wiper blades, which have a typical lifespan between 12 and 18 months.

“People don’t stop to think about wiper blades — they don’t need them until it rains, right?” Watson said. “You’re driving around in 112-degree temperature, you’ve got heat reflecting off the glass, and that causes the rubber components of a wiper blade to break down.”

The plastic parts of the blades can also suffer.

“With these extreme temperatures that you guys are seeing, it’s the plastic breaking down off the wiper blade itself, and people not realizing that that’s happened until it’s too late,” he said. “The wiper blade breaks and then you’ve got this metal arm scratching the glass.”

Watson recommended car owners keep a checklist of key vehicle parts to monitor during the summer months. Those include:

“People aren’t changing oil regularly like they think they are,” he said. “People need to pay more attention to them because these engines will go many miles — 200,000, 300,000 miles — as long as they’re maintained correctly. That’s big with this extreme heat.”



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