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Is your car battery ready for the summer heat?

Heads up: car batteries fail far more often in hot weather than cold weather, especially in the hot summers we’ve been having in BC in recent years.

Hot summer temperatures drive up the heat under your hood and accelerate your battery’s failure. And if your battery is a few years old it may not hold up much longer in extreme summer heat.

At BCAA, we respond to thousands of emergency calls due to overheated batteries, so we want to arm you with some preventive wisdom. BCAA Auto Service Manager Josh Smythe has shared this must-do checklist for hot weather road trips. Before you hit the road, he recommends you do the following:

Check the age and strength of your battery

Heat is harder on a tired cell than cold. Car batteries near retirement at around five years, especially after these hot summers we’ve been facing. You should be able to find your battery’s age on a sticker located on the top or side of your battery. A battery made in October 2021 will have a numeric code such as 10-1 or an alphanumeric code such as K-1 (“A” is for January, “B” is for February, etc, and the letter “I” is skipped).

jumpstarting car

When it’s time to replace your battery, buy one that’s less than six months old and preferably new, or at most three months old. If you’re looking for a maintenance-free battery for hot weather climates, consider getting an AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery. They cost more but perform better in summer weather.

And it’s not all about your battery, here’s some more tips to make sure your car is firing on all cylinders ahead of your summer road trips:

Ask your trusted BCAA Auto Service Technician to check the level and concentration of engine coolant

A trusted auto tech may find you need to top up your coolant. Before you take your car to be checked, look in your owner’s manual to find the right coolant type and strength for your vehicle.

See if your air conditioner is blowing cold air

How’s the AC? If it’s not blowing cold air your way, you might want to get it checked for leaks, or it may need a flush.

adjusting air conditioner

Change your oil regularly

Oil changes help prolong your engine’s life. Check your owner’s manual for when the oil changes should be and put them in your calendar.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good shape

Check each tire. Replace them if they’re cracked or low on tread. And don’t forget to check your spare.

Keep your gas tank more than half full

Fill it up at least halfway. A full tank keeps your fuel cool and doesn’t overwork your fuel pump. It also gives you the confidence of knowing you won’t run out of gas on the side of a highway.

To find the best prices on fuel near you, download the BCAA Mobile App and use the BC Gas Prices link under the Driving, Gas Prices & Weather Information section. Plus, BCAA Members can save 3c/L on fuel and more at participating Shell stations. Learn more at bcaa.com/shell.

Use folding sunshades when parked

You can get car window sunshades online or in automotive shops. These shades will lower the temperature inside your car and protect you from feeling like you’re being baked alive.

Slow down on the road

Slow down and relax on the highway. Slowing down saves gas and reduces the likelihood of your engine overheating.

traveller holding a map

Be prepared in case you break down

Review your BCAA Membership Plan well in advance of your trip to make sure you have the right level of coverage in case of the unexpected. You’ll get peace of mind knowing BCAA has your back in case of the unexpected. Plus, carry water, food, a fully charged phone, and some type of portable shade like a hat or umbrella. An emergency kit should contain enough supplies to last you 72 hours. You can build your own kit or order one here.

We’re just a click or call away if you need help

You can always book a pre-road trip check-up at one of our friendly BCAA Auto Service Centres, in Kelowna, South Surrey, Victoria and Nanaimo. Plus, if you do find yourself in need of roadside assistance, you can request service online or via the BCAA Mobile app. We’ll come help you get back on the road again.

This summer, it’s important to keep a cool head to protect your family, vehicle, and vacation. Follow all of Josh’s helpful tips and you’ll be set for summer road trip fun.