AAA: Top 5 Ways to Help Your Car Survive Summer’s Scorching Heat

Tuesday, 22 August 2023 13:10

AAA: Top 5 Ways to Help Your Car Survive Summer’s Scorching Heat Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY — With the sizzling days of late summer in full force, AAA reminds motorists that high temperatures can take their toll not only on people and animals, but also vehicles.

“While many drivers think about the importance of readying their vehicle for cold weather when winter nears, AAA actually receives more emergency roadside service calls for help from members in the summer,” says Rylie Mansuetti, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma.

Last summer in Oklahoma alone, AAA emergency roadside service crews responded to more than 80,000 requests for assistance. Over half of those calls involved some sort of engine breakdown requiring the vehicle to be towed, nearly 18% of the calls were battery related and over 13% involved tire troubles.

“A few preventive maintenance steps can help keep your vehicle running smoothly,” Mansuetti says.

AAA says there are five key areas to focus on:

1. Batteries

Summer’s heat can zap the life from your car’s battery, even more than the bitter cold of winter. Faster evaporation of the battery fluid can lead to corrosion on terminals and connections. Clean any corrosive build up from the battery terminals and cable clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight enough that they will not move.

If a car’s battery is more than three years old, it is a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to be sure it is still road ready. This test can be done at any AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. AAA members can request a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician come to them and test their battery free of charge. For more information on the AAA Mobile Battery Service, visit https://aaa.com/battery2. Coolant

Vehicle 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. However, over time, coolant becomes contaminated and its protective additives depleted.  Without proper cooling system maintenance, the odds of long-term engine damage, and a summer time boil over or increase.

Flush the system and replace the coolant periodically as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. See the owner’s manual to determine the service interval appropriate for your vehicle.

Between flushes, make sure to fill coolant to the proper levels by checking the overflow reservoir. If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. 

CAUTION! Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns. 

Inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition, accelerated by extreme heat. Worn parts are more susceptible to failure in hot conditions and need replacing.

3. Tires

Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a vehicle, it 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. 

According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, under-inflated tires generate excessive heat build-up and stress, causing irregular wear and internal damage.

Inflate tires to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number molded into the tire. Recommended tire pressures are located in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located on the driver’s doorjamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. 

While checking the tire pressures—including the spare—drivers also should inspect tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.  

4. Engine fluids

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 reduces, and 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.

5. Air conditioning

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.

Many automotive climate control systems today are equipped with a cabin filter that prevents outside debris from entering. If present, this filter should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.

Pack a Summer Emergency Kit―Just in Case

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.

In extreme heat, it is also important to have a plan in place in case a vehicle breakdown occurs. AAA membership includes emergency roadside assistance, and drivers can download the AAA app so they can easily request roadside service, as well as utilize other features.

About AAA:
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 63 million members nationwide and more than 400,000 members in Oklahoma.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com.
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