Alert: Cars Can't Take the Heat
Extreme heat can wreak havoc on your car. But breakdowns are preventable.
DENVER (June 28, 2018) – Hot enough for you? With triple-digit heat searing across Colorado, AAA is getting flooded with emergency calls for roadside assistance and relief. Why? While many drivers know that cold temperatures can be rough on their car, what they might not know is that extreme heat will almost certainly push their vehicle well past its limits.,/p>
Luckily, many heat-related breakdowns are preventable -- so long as motorists keep a cool head and take a few key steps:
- Make sure your battery is prepared for high temperatures. Extreme heat is the number one cause of battery failures. The number two cause is vibration. And while you can't do much about the heat, you can make sure your battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration. Another potential problem is the faster evaporation of battery fluid, which leads to corrosion on terminals and connections. Clean up any corrosive build-up from battery terminals and cable clamps, and ensure the clamps are tight enough that they won't move. If a battery is more than three years old, it's a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much it will last. More information at AAA.com/battery.
- Keep your engine cool. Cooling systems protect engines from overheating and should be flushed periodically, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Between flushes, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level 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. Rubber cooling system components are susceptible to heat-related deterioration, so periodically inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots, or other signs of poor condition.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Driving on under-inflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout, especially when road temperatures are extremely high. Check your car's tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month, because tires typically lose about one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage. For the most accurate reading, check tire pressures when the tires are cold. Always follow inflation pressure recommendations in your vehicle owner's manual or on the tire information label located in the glove box or on the driver's door jamb. Do not use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall, which may not be the correct pressure for your particular vehicle.
- Make sure fluids are at appropriate levels. Most engine fluids lubricate and serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, the cooling effect is reduced, which increases the possibility of overheating. Periodically check all vehicle fluids, including motor oil, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid and brake fluid, to ensure they are at appropriate levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner's manual.
- Maintain a comfortable driving environment. During extreme summer heat, an air-conditioning system can be more than just a pleasant convenience. It can reduce fatigue, which plays an important part in driver alertness and vehicle safety. If a car's air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature as well as it once did, it may mean the refrigerant level is low or there is another problem. Have the system checked by a certified technician. In addition, if your car has a cabin filter, it should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.
- Be prepared for summer breakdowns. Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their cars. 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.
Many maintenance tasks needed to prepare a car for extreme summer heat are relatively simple and can be performed by the average driver, but some are best left to a trained automotive technician. AAA offers a free public service to assist motorists seeking a qualified auto repair facility: AAA.com/Repair.
About AAA Colorado
More than 680,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's greatest advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit AAA.com.