June 21, 2012
With temperatures soaring to close to 100 degrees in Virginia Thursday as an oppressive heat wave smothers the east coast, AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a heat advisory to motorists regarding the threat that extreme temperatures pose on motor vehicles. “High can heat cause auto parts to fail and leave motorists stranded, thus AAA advises motorists to take preventive measures during extended periods of very high heat like this week,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “With each day of high heat, the number of calls to AAA for emergency road-side assistance increases dramatically. Requests for help will go up by about 700 per day when the thermometer rises 10-15 degrees.”
“High heat can be as hard, if not harder, on cars and engines than cold weather; more AAA members request road service during hot months than cold ones, thus our drivers are very busy assisting stranded drivers during the current heat wave,” Meade noted. “Common heat related problems include dead batteries, overheating and the failure of any rubber components, especially belts, hoses, and tires – anything made with rubber.”
AAA offers the following tips for motorists traveling during high heat:
Run errands during early morning and evening hours, and try to carpool whenever possible.
Do not run your car’s air conditioning system in continuous stop-and-go traffic conditions. Roll down the windows and give it a break periodically.
Leave extra space between your car and the vehicle in front of you, so that your engine is not drawing in hot exhaust.
Keep an eye on your car’s temperature gauge. If the gauge starts to reach the ‘hot’ mark, turn the air conditioner off, roll down the windows and run the heater at full blast until the gauge returns to the ‘cool’ end.
Heat kills batteries. Make sure you have a strong battery that is up to the challenge by having your battery tested. If your car’s battery needs a jump-start, have the battery recharged to full power as soon as possible, or have a power output tester applied to the battery to determine if it needs replacing.
Check your oil to make sure its level is at the ‘full’ mark. Oil serves as both a lubricant and as a coolant for your car’s engine.
Check your car’s coolant levels before leaving home. When adding coolant to your car’s radiator, supply a 50-50 mix of water and anti-freeze.
Make sure your tires are in good condition. Hot pavement can test tires that are under-inflated or on the edge of wearing thin.
Keep a fully-charged cell phone with you in case of emergency, but don’t leave it in your car, especially during the hottest part of the day. Heat will cause the phone’s battery to lose power. Also remember to remove all electronics which can be damaged due to heat including laptops.
Because even properly maintained vehicles can break down, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges motorists to equip their vehicle with an emergency kit containing a minimum of the following items: Flashlight with extra batteries, warning devices, such as flares or reflective triangles, first aid kit, a fully charged cellular phone to summon emergency assistance, and some extra bottles of water to fight dehydration.