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Summer heat can kill your engine; tips to keep you on the go

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Temperatures have gotten close to 100 in Virginia already this summer and AAA Tidewater Virginia says the high heat can kill your vehicle’s engine.

AAA recommends drivers address five key areas to help their vehicle survive high summer temperatures:

  1. Heat Can Zap the Life from Batteries

Most drivers think battery problems happen primarily in winter but summer heat can impact your vehicle’s battery even more. 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, AAA said.

Another potential summer problem is faster evaporation of the battery fluid, leading 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’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer it will last.

  1. Keep Your Engine Cool

Automobile engines work extra hard in the summer. 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, AAA reported.

Over time, engine coolant becomes contaminated and its protective additives are depleted. That’s why the system should be flushed and the coolant replaced periodically as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Older coolants used to require changing every two years or 24,000 miles, but most modern formulations are good for at least five years and 50,000 miles. See the owner’s manual or maintenance booklet to determine the service interval appropriate for a vehicle.

  1. 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.

More than half the vehicles on the road were found to have at least one under-inflated tire, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, and 85 percent of motorists do not know how to properly inflate their tires.

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.

  1. Cars Need Fluids during Extreme Heat Too

AAA said 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 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.

  1. 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.

AAA.com/Repair to locate a nearby AAA approved repair shop visit.