AAA: Heat taking its toll

With temperatures in Virginia expected to climb into triple digits this week, AAA is reminding drivers that the risk of engines overheating, older batteries failing and tire troubles grows with each day of the heatwave.

aaa“The effect this kind of weather can have on your car is cumulative so we expect to see an uptick in calls for roadside rescues,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.

AAA has responded to more than 4,700 calls (4,739) from stranded drivers in Virginia since Sunday this week and will likely see an uptick in calls as temperatures heat up.  AAA’s Car Care Insurance and Travel Centers and AAA’s Roadside Rescue teams have been busy with overheated cars, dead batteries, and tire blowouts.

Proper car maintenance is key to help avoid a breakdown in this heat.  AAA offers these reminders:

  • Test your battery and, if necessary, replace it BEFORE it dies:  Most batteries last 3-5 years and each day of extreme weather pushes a battery closer to its end.  AAA members can request a AAA Roadside Service technician to come to them and test their battery free of charge.  Should the battery need replacement, the technician can usually replace it on location.  For more information on the AAA Mobile Battery Service visit
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated:  Driving on under-inflated tires 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.  Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker normally located on the driver’s door jamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. Some vehicles use different pressures for the front and rear tires.  While checking the tire pressure – including the spare – drivers also should inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.
  • Check all fluids:  When fluid levels are low, 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.
  • Stock a summer emergency roadside kit:  Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a fully charged cellphone on hand so they can call for help when needed and also keep a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicle to ensure everyone’s safety while they’re waiting for help to arrive.

Emergency roadside kits should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools, and a first aid kit.

While many of the maintenance tasks to prepare a car for extreme summer heat can be performed by the average driver, some are best left to a trained automotive technician.

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