Heat issues on the road

The RV season is also the hot season – summer! Fortunately it’s not like the ‘good old days!’ With due care, you won’t have an over heated radiator, even when heading for the elevations to get cool. You won’t have to swelter when you get there, either, as there are all sorts of ways to stay cool, even off grid. There are issues, though.

A lawsuit in in progress about fuel density. When gasoline or diesel gets hot, it expands. In terms of energy, you’ll get more in the morning when its cool than in the afternoon when its hot if you purchase the same volume of fuel. The complaint is that this is wrong and they want temperature compensation at the pump. They do this in Canada so they can charge for the temperature shrinkage. In the US, with hot fuel, the cost ends up being on the consumer.

Heat is also a major factor in tire failure. Tires should handle most road temperatures you will run across, even on the sunny side. Do make sure that you have the tire pressure up near the max rating for the tire when you check it in the morning. Also make sure your tires aren’t much more than five years old and have no indication of cracking or other problems.

Heat is also the big reason transmissions fail. The fluid, oil, can only take so much heat. This is why a towing package often includes extra transmission oil cooling.

For your engine, make sure to flush the radiator and coolant every couple of years. Check fluid levels as a part of the morning pre-trip preparation. Do not remove radiator caps when the system is warmed up as it runs under pressure and that means very hot fluid can get everywhere, including on you, if you don’t wait for the engine to cool down. You can usually check coolant levels by looking at the overflow tank (another modern feature!)

Inspect all hoses and belts at every lube service to make sure they aren’t showing signs of heat stress or decay.

You can help reduce engine load in a motorhome by using the generator to run the house airconditioner while going down the road. Check the manual but in most cases, this is accepted practice as there is no way an engine A/C will cool a larger motor home.

The refrigerator is going to need good ventilation, too. It is much harder to pump heat uphill and you need to do what you can to help it along. Keep the vents clean and install a fan, maybe powered by a small solar panel, to help air flow through the refrigerator coils.

Time of day to travel is also something to consider. Try to find someplace cool to rest in mid afternoon. Do your traveling in the wee hours of the morning for coolest temps.

Never travel without drinking water and other gear that will get you by if you get stranded out in the middle of the desert. It may seem to be an inconvenience to have to stop every couple of hours to take care of nature’s business, but if you don’t, you aren’t taking care of your need for proper hydration.

If you do take a wrong turn and get stuck somewhere, don’t leave your vehicle. Wait for rescue to come to you, don’t go for it – you did tell someone where you were going and when to expect you to get there, didn’t you?

In the ‘good old days,’ travel in extreme weather required a lot of planning for contingencies. These days, it’s often just another day on the road. That doesn’t mean there is no risk so take due care.

Comments are closed.