Driving In Extreme Heat
When the temperature rises, treat your vehicle the same way you treat yourself – take some extra precautions to stay cool and in control to help avoid trouble.
Preparing your vehicle for hot-weather driving
The expert service technicians at your Ford or Lincoln Mercury Dealership are the best source for everything you need to get your vehicle ready for summer driving or a family road trip through the desert. Here’s what you can have them do:
Check engine coolant. If your coolant level is low or your coolant has lost its strength over time, you run a greater risk of overheating your engine.
Test the battery. Your battery may start harder in winter weather, but it may actually work more in hot temperatures. An inspection at your Ford or Lincoln Mercury Dealership will help reveal if your battery still has the power to perform reliably.
Change your oil and filter. This is always a must for your vehicle, and it’s especially important in hot conditions. Proper lubrication with the right grade of clean oil and a fresh oil filter helps your engine endure the stress of extreme heat.
You need your fluids. Brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer fluid should all be topped off as a precautionary measure.
Inspect the air conditioner. If your climate control isn’t working properly, you and your passengers can get very uncomfortable. A dealership service technician will check for leaks in the A/C system and add refrigerant if needed.
Check the wipers. Extreme heat and sun exposure will wear down their effectiveness. If they streak or smear, it’s time for new wipers.
Make sure tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires rob you of gas mileage and are also a safety hazard. Overinflated tires can also wear out prematurely and create unsafe handling. Check your tire pressure frequently to make sure they’re within the manufacturer’s recommended limits, since tire pressure can increase as the temperature rises or road friction builds up heat. Also check your spare tire regularly to keep it properly inflated.
How To Drive In Mountainous Terrain
Most roads and highways that cross elevated terrain are largely smooth and present little risk. However, some require extra skill to maneuver safely and with as little wear on your vehicle as possible.
Avoid driving on roads that cross steep slopes. You could lose traction and slip sideways if you try driving on them. Try to drive straight up and straight down steep slopes or it may be best to avoid the hill completely. Be conscious of the conditions on the other side of a hill before driving over the crest.
Start in a low gear. When climbing a steep hill, downshifting can put strain on the engine and possibly lead to stalling. Starting the ascent in a lower gear is better than downshifting later.
Take it slow. Observe all posted speed limits on curves, inclines, declines and straight-aways.
Don’t ride your brakes. When traveling down steep grades, riding your brakes to keep your vehicle’s momentum in check puts unnecessary strain on your braking system and leads to overheating. If you're driving a manual transmission vehicle, shift to a low gear before beginning your descent to let the engine slow your vehicle instead.
Be courteous. If you’re driving a heavy recreational vehicle or hauling a trailer up a long mountain slope, pull over and let other vehicles pass when you can do so safely.
Plan ahead. Most roads that are particularly winding or hilly are clearly marked. Still, before your mountain trip, plan your route around the least difficult roads, especially if you are towing a camper, trailer or recreational vehicle.
Defensive Driving Techniques
Planning ahead is crucial to safe driving. You should prepare yourself for the possibility of a situation in which you have to react evasively, think quickly, and keep yourself and your vehicle from harm at the hands of another driver.
Find yourself an empty parking lot or deserted, infrequently traveled road and get to know how your vehicle responds to the following tactics. Make sure to practice both in normal and slippery conditions. With a little practice, you’ll have an emergency plan and the skills to execute it.
Practicing defensive maneuvers should be kept to a minimum in order to avoid excessive wear on the vehicle – just enough to be comfortable with how you and your vehicle respond.
- Stay alert to both obstacles and other vehicles while practicing
- Make sure that you and any passengers have securely fastened the safety belts at all times
- Check and double check your mirrors and blind spots, signal early and obey the laws of the road
- Do not practice quick stops more than once without letting the brakes cool off
- Quick stops. With your vehicle traveling at 25-30 mph or 40-48 kph, try to make as quick a stop as possible. Press firmly on the brake pedal to get a sense of just how effective your anti-lock brake system can be in an emergency.
- Swerving. In your practice environment, steer your vehicle quickly one lane over and back again to simulate maneuvering around an obstacle.
- Swerving while stopping. Next, try turning your vehicle quickly one lane over while pressing firmly on the brake pedal. This maneuver is best used to avoid a collision with an object or vehicle in front of you while giving a vehicle behind you enough room to stop as well.