Car Care During Heatwave

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

July 25, 2005

With so many people concerned about staying cool, some seem to forget that our vehicles could also take quite a beating with the heat

Cora Schenberg is not 100% sure that the heat played a role in her car being towed, but there's a good chance it did.

"It didn't jump-start this morning, so we had to call AAA to come and tow the car," she explained.

With temperatures soaring into the high nineties in the Charlottesville area, calls for help from stranded motorists have picked up.

"It's almost overwhelming with the calls, especially toward late afternoon and evening with cars breaking down on the highway, in the construction zones, overheating," said service advisor, Paul Laidler with Airport Rd Auto Center.

Experts say that especially now, drivers have to make sure their vehicles are in tip top shape. There are some things to keep an eye out for.

"The coolant, the belts and hoses, the condition of their charging system, their battery, the condition of their tires," said Laidler.

AAA is also trying to send a message to drivers to be cautious.

"When the temperatures are this high, our routine calls become urgent calls, if the motorists are stranded with their vehicle," said AAA retail office manager, Mary Gordon. "We've seen a dramatic increase in the calls during temperatures like this."

Apart from maintenance, AAA has some more suggestions. You should leave extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you, so your engine is not drawing in hot exhaust. Do not run your car's air conditioning in continuous stop and go conditions, and keep an eye on your vehicle's temperature gauge. Because, if you think you're hot, chances are, your vehicle is even hotter.

"I can't imagine it's not as hot and uncomfortable as I am," said Schenberg.

AAA is also asking drivers to stay off the road during rush hour and the hottest part of the day, if they can. They also can't emphasize enough to keep the coolant fresh and at the maximum amount in your radiator.

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