Hot Weather Car Maintenance: 6 Tips and Tricks

Advance Auto Parts has arrived in southern California, and don't worry — we understand that car maintenance is a little different in the heat, no matter where you are in the world. From draining batteries to fading seats, your ride probably needs a little extra TLC if you live in a warmer climate.

a Hollywood Boulevard street sign with palm trees

Hollywood Boulevard | Getty

1. Which Motor Oil Do You Need?

If you're in a beach-side city that's always bustling with tourists, you may be a little too familiar with start and stop traffic. If you want to get the most out of your vehicle in those conditions, we recommend using synthetic oil. Synthetic oil has better lubrication and creates less sludge, giving you increased fuel economy, performance and longer engine life.

If you're switching from conventional to synthetic, though, you need to do some research. To find out if synthetic is right for your vehicle, use our Add a Vehicle feature. If it is, then you can get started!

You should change your oil every six months or 5,000 miles, as recommended by our easy maintenance guide. When it's time to do so, you can use either a synthetic blend or go straight to full synthetic. Plus, don't forget a new oil filter while you're at it!

Pro Tip

The myth that you can't mix synthetic and conventional is just that: a myth. Don't worry if you need to switch back and forth between conventional and synthetic.

Synthetic oil does tend to be a bit more pricy as it's higher quality, so check out oil specials at Advance. If you're still not convinced, feel free to read the debate between synthetic and conventional oil.

2. Battery Failure

Simply put, continuous heat drains your battery (read up on the process called "sulfation" if you want to know the science behind it). On average, car batteries last around 4-5 years in the north and 2-3 in the south. It's just the price you have to pay for beautiful weather.

To avoid hearing that dreaded tic tic tic upon starting, get your battery tested every now and then — about twice a year should do the trick. Advance offers a free battery and charging system test and, if you need a new battery, you're in luck — you'll get it installed for free with purchase.

While you're at it, check out some of Advance's other free services like oil recycling, the loaner tools program and wiper blade installation.

two women in a car on a sunny day

Two women on a trip | Getty

3. Prevent Sun Damage

It's a car lover's nightmare: you open the door and see cracked, faded seats. The truth is, your seats hate sitting in the heat just as much as you do. Here are a few solutions:

1. For leather or leatherette seats, get a quality leather cleaner and conditioner. They provide the vital moisture needed to keep that leather looking beautiful.

2. Get some seat covers. No matter what material your seats are, they'll be protected from damaging UV rays. There are plenty of styles and fits available — find the ones that suit you!

3. Buy a classic windshield shade. They're not the most fashionable, but they do provide excellent protection. Trust me — you'll be grateful when you don't have to deal with a burning hot steering wheel.

4. Get the Hollywood Look

Going to a premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre? Or maybe you're just taking a Sunday drive on your favorite winding backroads. Either way, we all want that sleek, glossy look.

So treat your vehicle to a spa day by stopping off at your local Advance for a wash and wax kit. If you've never washed your vehicle before, don't worry; here's a step-by-step guide on how to wash and wax like a pro.

Now, you may be tempted to skip the wax part, and we urge you not to. Car wax does give a pretty shine, but it also protects against UV rays and pollution. A couple of extra minutes could be a game-changer for the life of your car's exterior.

5. Keep the Sand Away

If you're a beach-goer, you'll love this tip. Sand is great by the ocean, but in your car? The vacuum cleaner and scrubber better be on standby.

Introducing WeatherTech mats, a truly revolutionary invention. These mats are laser-cut for your exact vehicle and are ready to face the elements. All you have to do is take out your old, dirty floor mats and replace them with WeatherTech — it's that easy!

To clean them, you just take them out, shake them off and maybe do a little bit of extra work if someone spilled a soda. If you want to see them before you buy them, stop by your local Advance store to check out some examples.

Still not convinced? Read Dawn Gibson-Thigpen's (aka @sassyautochick on Instagram) review.

person checks coolant levels

Checking coolant | Getty

6. Keep Track of Your Coolant

Coolant aka antifreeze works extra hard in extreme weather conditions, whether that's hot or cold. For the uninitiated, coolant does two main things: prevents your engine from freezing up when it's cold and keeps your engine from overheating during operation. You can imagine how that second job gets even tougher when it's hot outside.

A messed-up engine is a bad day for any vehicle owner, so take the time to test your coolant every three months or 3,000 miles. Use a tester (only do this when the engine is cool) or find a pro to measure the coolant's strength. You can also check the coolant reservoir level to make sure it's filled to the proper level. If it's low, top it off or flush the radiator if it's time to replace it.

Hopefully this quick list gives you a few to-do's to get your vehicle up to standard! For more regional advice, check out an Advance store near you. Our Team Members are always ready to help, no matter how big (or small) the job.

Last updated September 8, 2022