How this heatwave could push your vehicle to the limit
BRANSON, Mo. – Downtown Texaco has been servicing overheated cars in the area for 29 years. Dee Dee Ulrich owns and operates the auto shop with his family.
“I have another car here that’s overheating with a fan problem,” Ulrich said. “So a lot of people just don’t think so. They just think it’s hot, turn up the air conditioning. You know, and again, on these newer vehicles the air conditioning won’t work properly if the cooling system isn’t where it needs to be.
Last summer, AAA came to the aid of more than 118,000 Missouri motorists. They advise drivers to keep late summer and fall trips on track by having a vehicle thoroughly inspected before embarking on a road trip.
Ulrich says the three main types of vehicle problems that could derail a summer trip are dead batteries, engine problems, and flat tires.
“Especially being in Branson, you have stop and go traffic. It’s the most important thing we hear, ”Ulrich said. “We were sitting in traffic on 76, and I started to overheat and had nowhere to go. We see it a lot. “
AAA Summer Vehicle Maintenance Tips:
Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemy, leading to internal failure and eventual failure.
- Make sure your battery is securely attached to minimize vibration.
- Clean any corrosive build-up from the battery terminals and cable ties, as heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate faster, leading to corrosion.
- Make sure the clamps are tight enough that they do not move.
- If a battery is over three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a qualified technician to determine how long it will last.
Cooling systems protect engines from overheating and should be flushed periodically, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
- Between rinses, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level by checking the overflow tank.
- If necessary, top up the tank with a 50/50 mixture of water and the type of coolant specified by the vehicle manufacturer.
- TO WARN! – Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure can cause serious burns.
- The rubber cooling system components are susceptible to deterioration due to heat. Therefore, periodically inspect the hoses and drive belts for cracks, soft spots, or other signs of poor condition.
Just as driving with under-inflated tires is dangerous, over-inflated tires can cause uneven wear, reduce vehicle handling, and make tires susceptible to damage from road hazards.
- Check tire pressure often as tires naturally lose pressure (usually 1 to 3 psi per month) because a tire’s sidewall is permeable.
- Low tire pressure results in poor handling and braking, reduced gas mileage, and excessive wear. So be sure to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month, especially before a long trip.
- Check the depth of the tread. A tire’s ability to stop at a safe distance is compromised when its tread depth reaches 4/32 inches. An easy way to tell if a tire is worn is to place a quarter upside down (not a penny) in a tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.
- Know the age of the tire. As a tire ages, its rubber becomes hard and brittle, losing elasticity and strength. Therefore, the older a tire, the greater the risk of failure. The age of your tire can be found by checking the last four DOT numbers stamped on the sidewall of a tire; for example, 0419 means the tire was manufactured in the fourth week of 2019. AAA recommends replacing any tire that is six years old or older.
- For more tire safety tips, drivers can visit AAA.com/TireTips
Even with preventative maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, which is why the AAA recommends that drivers have a fully stocked emergency kit in their cars. The kit should include water, non-perishable food, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, flares or emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.
Many of the maintenance tasks needed to prepare a car for an extreme summer heat are relatively straightforward and can be performed by the average driver, but some tasks are best left to a qualified auto technician. AAA offers a free public service to help motorists find a qualified auto repair center. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities must meet strict professional standards and maintain a customer satisfaction rate of at least 90 percent. To locate an AAA authorized repair shop, visit AAA.com/Repair.