The heat is on, so keep your wheels cool.

Ready for a hot summer? The National Weather Service is predicting a season similar to last year’s unbearable sizzler. More than 170 all-time U.S. heat records were tied or broken in June 2012 alone, according to NASA. And, by early July, 56 percent of the U.S. was going through drought—the largest percentage in the last 12 years.

This kind of weather doesn’t only inflict stress on us—it can punish a vehicle too. Tire treads melt on hot pavement; auto fluids drain much more quickly in high temperatures; and the relentless heat will also wear down your battery, while also damaging your paint job.

Try following these preventative tips to help your car beat the heat this summer:

Battery check
Have your battery tested at a certified automotive repair shop—especially if the battery is more than 3 years old—to assess heat stress. “A dealership will have equipment that can tell you whether or not it needs to be recharged or replaced,” says Ron Montoya, consumer advice editor at, a leading automotive consumer site. “If it checks out fine, you’ve bought yourself more time.”

Ditch the winter wheels
Switch to summer or all-season tires now if you depended upon special snow tires to get through the cold months. Dry, hot pavement is especially harmful to winter tires. Also, make sure tires are properly inflated, as summer weather causes air pressure to rise. If your tires are properly inflated, they’ll last longer—and you’ll get better gas mileage.

Wiper blade care
Your wipers must make full contact with the windshield, especially during a surprise summer downpour. If you’ve had them for a year or longer and they aren’t doing this, get a new set.

Paint protection
It’s always advisable to wash and wax your car at the start of summer. Do it in the shade to protect the exterior and avoid watermarks.

Emergency kit items
Summer essentials include: a flashlight, flares, first-aid kit, jumper cables, paper towels, extra washer fluid, a jug of water and basic tools such as wrenches, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, pliers and grips.