Summer is here! That means lazy beach days, long vacations, and the summer heat. While this sounds like a recipe for fun, the heat can be the worst enemy when it comes to your wheelchair accessible vehicle. In fact, July is one of the busiest months of the year for emergency roadside assistance calls, which means unexpected breakdowns. High summer temperatures can take their toll on the engine and other components such as the interior, paint, tires, and brakes. For instance, on a day that is 80°F, the temperature in a vehicle can reach over 120°F from the heat being trapped inside.
When it comes to the heat and the interior of your vehicle, nothing is safe. From the leather seats to the steering wheel and dashboard, the sun’s fury during the summer leaves nothing untouched. Investing in a vehicle shade to place inside the windshield is one of the most effective ways to avoid any lasting damage and to keep it cool.
Just like we protect our skin from the sun’s harsh rays, we must do the same for our vehicle’s exterior. While damage to the paint won’t stop it from functioning, the aftermath and repair cost can be expensive. Luckily, preventing UV rays from damaging your vehicle’s paint is as simple as just washing it. Some also suggest waxing for safety from the sun.
Extremely hot roads and tires are simply not compatible. In fact, too much heat from the pavement can be a serious threat to your wheels, causing a failure or blowout if they’re not in good shape. Have your tires inspected during every routine oil change for wear and tear, small piercing objects, and tread depth. Also ensure to frequently check the pressure for signs of deflation.
If there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s brake failure. During the hot summer days, your braking system is tremendously affected by the high temperatures. Possible malfunctions that could occur include brake fluid boiling inside the brake lines, pedal fading, or even a loss of complete braking power. Getting your brakes inspected at the beginning of the summer is the best way to prevent any problems.
To avoid any additional troubles with your handicap accessible vehicle, follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual and your vehicle will hopefully make it through the summer in a breeze.
Quick At-Home Check List
Some jobs you or a friend may be able do, while others are best left to mobility professionals.
- Check the air conditioning and inspect belts and hoses. When is the last time you had the entire system inspected?
- Have a automotive mobility expert inspect your brake pads and linings for wear.
- Change the engine oil and filter according to the service schedule. Check fluids, including coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper and power steering.
- Inspect batteries and cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt. Have it tested if it’s near the end of its warranty. It’s a lot easier to replace a battery before a trip than replace a dead one on the side of the road.
- Change the air filter. A dirty filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
- Replace wiper blades once a year.
- Check your tires’ air pressure and the spare.
- You can significantly alter the car’s performance by rotating the tires.
- Test the lights – interior and exterior, including turn signals and high beams – to make sure they work. And clean them.
- Keep some spare coolant around just in case.
- A professional should inspect the radiator, pressure cap, belts and hoses. If it’s time, flush and refill the cooling system.
- Consider an inspection by a NMEDA dealer or qualified technician before leaving on a trip.
- Repairs made on the road can be more costly.
- Always keep a safety kit in your car and jumper cables.
Lastly, buckle up and don’t leave home without your cell phone and your specialized parking permit.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.