AAA warns drivers to prepare their vehicle for extreme heat

With the National Weather Service announcing record temperatures across California this week, AAA reminds motorists to prepare their cars - and themselves - for extreme heat.

Temperatures were expected to remain above 100 degrees in many cities. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory with record-breaking temperatures in Fresno among other Valley areas.

“The first thing I would advise drivers to do is toss a case of water in the car,” said Mike Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “Remember that your vehicle isn’t used to these extreme temperatures, either. Be prepared for parts to break down, and have a plan for what to do.”

AAA projects to receive more than 2 million calls for roadside assistance from California drivers this summer. The most common calls for service will come from drivers facing issues with batteries, tires and lockouts, which can leave drivers stuck on the road without water.

AAA recommends drivers address five key areas before heading out on the road:

Secure and Clean Auto Batteries

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.

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.

Make Sure Your Engine Keeps its Cool

It’s 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 increase.

Rubber cooling system components also are susceptible to deterioration caused by extreme heat. Inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking and soft spots. Worn parts are more susceptible to failure in hot conditions and should be replaced.

Minimize Blowout Risk

Driving on underinflated 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.

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.

Stay Hydrated

Engine fluids are essential to keeping a vehicle running smoothly. Most fluids lubricate and serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. When fluid levels are low, the possibility of overheating increases. Check all fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to appropriate levels.

Keep the Cold Air Coming

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.

Even with proper preventive maintenance, breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicle. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries and basic repair tools.