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5 myths about summer driving and maintenance

Road trip season is back. It’s time for you to get your engine tuned up for summer driving. Regular maintenance is essential to keeping it running smoothly on hot BC roads. But, trying to dig through all the information about what’s best for your vehicle can be overwhelming.

That’s where we can help. To give you peace of mind and answer your top questions, BCAA’s Auto Service Experts provide answers to five myths about summer driving and maintenance.

Myth #5: Car batteries work just as well in the heat

Some people believe their battery can work just as well in summer as in the punishing winter chill. This, alas, is a myth. Summer heat is tougher on your car battery. Summer temperatures can drive up the heat under your hood and speed up your battery’s failure. CAA and AAA have found that car batteries typically last 3-5 years, ranging from about 58 months in cooler northern regions (4.83 years), and down to less than 41 months in the hot southern regions (3.42 years).

Myth #4: You get less gas for your money when it's hot out

Many people believe that as the day gets warm and the temperature rises, gas expands in the tank under the gas station. So, when you fill up your tank, you'll get less gas for your money. This created the myth that it’s more economical to fill up early in the morning when it's cooler.

This is false. Gas stations keep their gas underground where the temperature is cooler and more stable. So whether it’s day or night, you'll get the same amount of gas when you fill your tank. There’s no need to get up at 5 am to fill your tank.

fueling up car

Myth #3: Using the AC will burn more gas

Many drivers believe that air conditioning uses more gas than when you roll down your window. The truth is that it really depends on how fast you’re driving.

When you’re driving more slowly (in the city), rolling down your window is more economical than using your AC.

However, when you get up to highway speeds, air conditioning is actually more fuel efficient. This is because opening your windows increases your aerodynamic drag. So your car has to use more energy to push air out of the way. This also varies with speed: drag increases as a square of velocity, so driving faster makes open windows dramatically increase your air resistance.

Myth #2: Your air filter always needs changing

Sometimes your air filter needs changing, sometimes it doesn’t. Most modern vehicles can go around 40,000 km or three years before they need a new filter. If you’re driving in harsh conditions that toss up a lot of debris at your vehicle or live-in regions that are susceptible to forest fires, then your filter will likely need changing more often.

There’s an easy test you can do at home to see if your filter needs replacing. It’s called the Light Bulb Test. Pop the hood and carefully remove your air filter. Then hold the filter in front of a 100-watt light bulb. If you see light pass through at least half of your air filter, this means your filter is in great shape.

Myth #1: It’s fine to drive on old tires with less tread in the summer

You might think ‘clear roads, smooth sailing’ but remember that summer always comes with rain (especially on the coast and Vancouver Island). Tires with less tread perform poorly on wet roads. So unless you’re planning on staying parked whenever it rains until your tires dry off, consider switching to new tires that have a minimum tread length of 4/32”.

BCAA Auto Service Technician working on wheel

We’re happy to get you ready for summer driving

If you have any questions about summer maintenance, our team of trusted auto experts at BCAA Auto Service Centres are here for you. And for a limited time, come in for brake repairs ($400 minimum) and you’ll receive a free oil change (valued up to $118) at your next service.* Plus, as a BCAA Member, save 10% off labour on brakes, wheel alignments, fluid flushes, steering & chassis and suspension**.

Book an appointment at your local BCAA Auto Service Centre in Nanaimo, Victoria, Kelowna, and South Surrey. We are here to help ensure your car is safe for you and your family this summer.

*Brake repair with minimum $400.00 (before tax) to qualify for free oil change offer. Free oil change to be used at next service. Some conditions may apply, see in-store for details. **10% Member savings applied only to the labour portion on applicable services and repairs. Discount applied before applicable taxes and fees. Cannot be combined with any other discount or coupon. Valid BCAA Membership required. Subject to change without notice, some conditions apply, see in-store for full details.