COLUMBUS — The current heat wave has led to an increase in vehicle breakdowns. With more heat in the forecast, AAA reminds motorists to take steps to prevent breakdowns.
Central Ohio AAA Car Care Plus centers have seen big increases in battery failures, air conditioning repairs and tire replacements due to the hot weather. In addition, AAA has received an increase in calls for emergency roadside assistance from motorists with dead batteries and breakdowns requiring tows. Automotive experts say many of these breakdowns can be prevented with the following routine maintenance:
Check battery twice a year: Vehicle batteries typically last 3-5 years. Heat degrades a battery’s interior components and shortens its life. The combination of vehicles sitting idle for several weeks this spring during Ohio’s Stay at Home Order and current heat wave has led to an increase in dead batteries this year.
Check tire pressure and condition monthly: Changes in temperature can affect tire pressure, which can cause uneven wear and shorten the life of a tire. Driving on underinflated tires can cause tires to overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. In addition, worn tires can’t grip the road during wet weather conditions, which can lead to hydroplaning.
Maintain engine cooling system: Cooling systems must work extra hard during hot weather to keep engines from overheating. Coolant protects the radiator and internal engine components. Over time, coolant degrades and needs to be changed. Neglecting this can lead to long-term engine damage. Rubber cooling system components will also deteriorate in extreme heat. Motorists should inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, bulges, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.
Top off fluids: Most fluids not only lubricate, but also serve as coolants by carrying heat away from critical engine components. When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect is reduced, and the probability of overheating increases. It’s important to keep up on routine oil changes, as reputable shops will also inspect other fluid levels when changing the oil.
Pay attention to the air conditioner: A vehicle without air conditioning can be hot and uncomfortable for travelers. If you have noticed a decrease in cooling capacity, have a qualified technician examine your air conditioning system.
Even with proper maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur. AAA recommends every driver have an emergency kit in their vehicle, which includes a mobile phone charger, water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency reflectors, basic hand tools and a first aid kit. In addition, don’t forget personal protective equipment, including face coverings, gloves or plastic bags, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.