Adjusting to the Heat

Some small adjustments can help keep your engine happy in hot weather.

Many parts of the country have experienced record heat this summer, and August and September can bring their share of scorching days as well. If you haven’t done so already, you may need to make some adjustments to the way you operate your airplane to keep the engine happy.

During your preflight inspection, make sure you have plenty of oil. Yeah, this is a given, but it’s particularly important to keep the oil topped at the recommended level when it’s hot since it helps keep the engine cool. Also check that the air intakes are clear of debris and that the baffles are in good condition as they help direct the airflow to the areas of the engine that need it most. Also, on the ground and during the climb, keep the cowl flaps open (if your airplane is equipped with them) to help the airflow through the engine cowl.

Make sure that you monitor the temperature gauges frequently and keep them well in the green. If the needles start to creep up near the red lines, level off or shallow your climb to give the engine better cooling. You may also want to reduce the power. When it’s really warm, it’s a good idea to make it a habit to climb at a lower pitch attitude and higher airspeed as soon as you’re at a safe altitude (say 1,000 feet) to prevent your airplane from overheating. A richer mixture will also keep the engine cooler, so you may want to experiment with burning a little more fuel than you’re used to during the climb.


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