HAMILTON – The first day of summer brings extreme heat to the region with high temperatures taking their toll on people, animals and even cars. Extreme heat can push a vehicle past its limits, and once again this year some drivers will find themselves stranded at the roadside because of it.
“While many drivers think about the importance of readying their vehicle for cold weather in winter, it’s important to not forget about the need also to prepare for hot summer months,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Many parts of the country are experiencing extreme heat, which can take its toll on vehicle components. However, a few preventive maintenance steps can help keep your vehicle running smoothly.”
AAA recommends drivers address five key areas to help their vehicle safely survive high summer temperatures:
- Heat Can Zap the Life from Batteries - Most drivers think battery problems occur primarily in winter, but summer heat can negatively impact your car’s battery even more than the bitter cold of winter. Heat and vibration are a battery’s two worst enemies leading to internal breakdown and eventual failure. While drivers cannot do much about the heat, they can make sure their battery is securely mounted in place to minimize vibration.
- Keep Your Engine Cool - Automobile engines work extra hard in the summer, and it is the cooling system’s job to protect the engine from overheating. In addition, additives in the coolant protect the radiator and internal engine components against wear and corrosion. Without proper cooling system maintenance, the odds of long term engine damage, and a summer time boil over, definitely increase.
- Avoid Excessive Heat Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, it also 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 car 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. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires.
- Cars Need Fluids during Extreme Heat Too - Engine fluids are essential to keeping a vehicle running smoothly. Most fluids not only lubricate, they also serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect is reduced, and the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers to 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.
- Cool Passengers are Happy Passengers - Maintaining a comfortable driving environment reduces fatigue, which can play an important part in driver alertness and vehicle safety. During extreme summer heat, a properly operating air conditioning system can be more than just a pleasant convenience. If a car’s air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature as well as it did in the past, it may mean the refrigerant level is low or there is another problem. Have the air conditioning system checked by a certified technician.
Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicle. The kit 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 are relatively simple and can be performed by the average driver, some are best left to a trained automotive technician. AAA offers a free public service to assist motorists seeking a qualified auto repair facility that they can trust to work on their vehicle. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities must meet stringent professional standards and maintain an ongoing customer satisfaction rating of 90 percent or better. To locate a nearby AAA approved repair shop visit AAA.com/Repair.