With temperatures in many parts of the country climbing into triple digits in recent days, AAA is reminding drivers that the risk of engines overheating, older batteries failing and tire troubles grows with each day of a heat wave.
“The effect this kind of weather can have on your car is cumulative so we expect to see an uptick in calls for roadside rescues,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA.
Proper vehicle maintenance is crucial to help avoid a breakdown in high temperatures. AAA offers these reminders:
- Test your battery and, if necessary, replace it before it dies. Most batteries last three to five years and each day of extreme weather pushes a battery closer to its end.
- Make sure tires are properly inflated. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. This problem becomes even more of a concern when road temperatures are extremely high. Tires should be checked when the vehicle has not been driven recently, and they should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer — not the number molded into the tire sidewall. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located on the driver’s door jamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires. While checking the tire pressure — including the spare — drivers also should inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.
- Check all fluids. When fluid levels are low, the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.
- Stock a summer emergency roadside kit. Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a fully charged cell phone on hand so they can call for help. Also needed is a well-stocked emergency kit to ensure everyone’s safety while they’re waiting for help to arrive. Emergency roadside kits should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first-aid kit.
While many of the maintenance tasks to prepare a car for extreme summer heat can be performed by the average driver, some are best left to a trained automotive technician, AAA stressed.