“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” is a cliched expression that’s nonetheless quite accurate. Ask anyone who lives in a tropical climate, and they’d likely tell you they’d be happy with a higher temperature if the humidity would break. High humidity can make even moderate temperatures feel oppressive and ruin your weekend outdoor plans. If you live in an environment that’s humid in the summer, or even humid all year round, you want to make sure that your vehicle is ready to handle humidity just as much as you are. Otherwise, your car can suffer, and the more it suffers, the more you’ll have to pay to repair it or, in the worst case scenario, buy a new one.
Let’s say you head down to your Chevy dealer and buy a Chevy Equinox. With your shiny new vehicle, you’re watching where you park it so no one dings it, making sure it stays clean, and showing it off, but are you also keeping an eye on the climate? Perhaps you keep it out of the snow. Maybe you keep it in the garage when it rains. Most drivers, though, don’t think anything needs to happen when the humidity skyrockets. That instinct is wrong and can lead to significant maintenance problems.
When Should You Worry?
If you’re sweating just from being outside, then your car might be struggling, too. Now is the time to take action if you haven’t already. Warm air has the capacity contain more moisture (though it doesn’t always, like in the desert), so when the temperatures start to rise, it’s time to see how moisture-ready your vehicle is. Note that we did not say moisture-proof. There’s no way to prevent some form of humidity from getting into your car, and it would be a mistake to believe there is. Instead, you want to be alert about how to handle it.
Any weather app on your phone should tell you what the humidity is outside. If the percentage is above 50%, it’s considered to be a danger area for electronics.
Watch Out for Mold and Mildew
There aren’t many experiences more gross than discovering that mold has been festering in your car. If you’re in a locale with a lot of humidity, mold or mildew can easily find its way inside your ride. Fungi love humidity, and if you’re not cautious, you might find yourself tracking something into your car that can grow into an unpleasant moldy mess.
Avoiding a mold problem does not have to be difficult. Make sure to keep the inside of your vehicle clean and dry. If you spill water, go the extra mile to make sure it’s completely dry rather than just wiping a towel over the moist spot. The remaining moisture won’t evaporate on its own in a humid environment. Make sure to vacuum your car regularly, too. You can do it yourself or you can bring it down to your local car wash. If mold does start to form, then you definitely want to have a professional look at it. Mold is unhealthy, so you don’t want to handle it on your own if it crops up. A professional detailer will know exactly how to attack and remove mold, so you don’t have to waste time messing around.
Is a new car less likely to have a mold problem? Absolutely. A new car will be cleaner, since it just came from the factory, and the dealer makes sure it’s squeaky clean before the sale. However, circumstances can change fast. Perhaps you use your Equinox to go outbacking. That means the interior can become dirty really quick. Stay on top of keeping it clean and dry, and you won’t have to worry about any nasty surprises. You can even purchase moisture absorbers to place around the interior of your vehicle. Just make sure to change them regularly.
Make Sure Your Engine Is Ready for Humidity
Heat and humidity are enemies of your engine. We mentioned before how it can sometimes seem even warmer out than it really is thanks to humidity, and your engine will feel the same way. The higher the humidity, the more your engine will suffer. The engine sheds excess heat through the radiator, which gets its name because it radiates engine heat into the air to get rid of it. If the air is already hot, it can’t do that as effectively, and high humidity makes this situation even worse.
A brand new engine is likely to struggle less, since the coolant, radiator, thermostat, and other cooling components are all new, but there’s never a bad time to get your engine closely inspected. As with all humidity issues, preparing in advance will prevent a crisis. Your mechanic may also suggest using some items on your engine, such as fogging oil, to further protect it from heat and the moisture that might creep in.
Regularly having your engine cleaned has the benefit of reducing the likelihood of rust and corrosion, both of which can be exacerbated by moisture from the heat. A clean engine will last longer, thus elongating the lifespan of your vehicle.
Humidity Can Fry Electrical Systems
Humidity can be a bit of a trickster, and set off your sensors when nothing is actually wrong. If you find a sensor activating and warning you of a problem, you should get it checked immediately. But there’s a change humidity is to blame, because it can affect your vehicle’s technology.
If moisture gets into your vehicle’s systems, electric connectors can short out and fry, possibly damaging your electronics. This is another reason why keeping your interior dry is imperative. Even minor condensation forming inside your vehicle can seep into important tech. When a sensor goes off, you want to know it’s for real and not due to moisture.
Air Conditioning Should Not Be Overtaxed
Let’s say you have your new Chevy Equinox. Its air conditioning system will be up to date, keeping you cool with ease. However, overuse of air conditioning in warm weather can lead to an overheated engine, thanks to the moisture created by the AC and the intensity of the system itself. A new car is far less likely to tax the engine, of course, but it’s better to be forewarned. This does not mean you shouldn’t use your AC, but you do want to make sure it’s not abused, either. Plus, AC usage can eat up gas, so if you use it less in the heat, you’re helping both your engine and your wallet.
Driving with the windows down instead of the AC blasting can also help air out your car, making it less likely for condensation to form. Air conditioning functions by removing moisture from the air inside the cabin, which causes Just make sure to have those windows back up if there’s a mist in the air. You’ll also want to keep recirculation off. Recirculating air will turn into foul air before long, causing issues in the vents.
If you have an older car, take the time to clean the vents and make sure the system still runs well. The more humid the weather, the more likely you are to crank the AC up. Should your system be a little creaky, you can run into trouble. It’s better to spend the money to repair it now than have to deal with a larger, more expensive problem down the line.
Where you park matters. In fact, picking the right parking spot can be an incredible preventive measure. If you park in a shaded location, your car is less likely to feel the full impacts of heat and humidity. You may already do this in order to keep your car cool as you don’t want to step in and find it’s stifling; however, the benefits exceed just a nice climate. By preventing your car from feeling the full force of the sun, you’re preventing it from the conditions that cause mold, rust, and corrosion.
While on the note of being parked, it’s also worth checking to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed. Otherwise, moisture could be trickling into your car. The older your car is, the more likely it’ll need a touch of sealant to keep things secure. So, your new Chevy Equinox should be fine, but your used Pontiac might have an issue. If you feel like your car’s interior is damp but cannot locate the cause, then this could be the reason.
If you’re in a location where it’s regularly humid, with moisture or dew often forming on your car in the morning, you might want to consider having your car consistently waxed. This will make it harder for the condensation to do damage to the body of the vehicle, thus keeping its appearance great and also securing substantial resale value.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance is Key
By now, you’ve probably noticed the trend: keep your car dry and maintained. For the most part, this is all you have to do. While the weather is out of your control, what gets inside your car largely shouldn’t be. If there’s an accident because you trudged in too much mud, it’s worth taking a few minutes to clean it up now, rather than shell out money because there’s mold in your AC vents two months later. As with most automotive matters, you won’t have to deal with too many large problems as long as you fix the small problems as soon as they crop up.