As the mercury starts to climb this summer, AAA Michigan reminds motorists that special precautions are needed to ensure safe driving when temperatures stay above 90 degrees.
“Extended periods of heat are tough on a vehicle and can leave motorists stranded in dangerous situations,” says Richard J. Miller, manager of Community Safety Services. “Careful preparation is the key to weathering summer’s higher temperatures.”
* Batteries – Heat can be as tough on batteries as the coldest winter weather. Batteries approaching the end of their warranty should be tested by a qualified technician to make sure they have the starting power to handle the stress of extended periods of extreme temperatures.
* Motor oil – Motor oil keeps the engine cool, so the condition of the oil and levels must be checked. If driving under extreme conditions-such as over mountains and/or towing a heavy trailer-switch to motor oil with higher viscosity. Check your owner’s manual for specific oil recommendations.
* Brake fluid – To ensure reliable hot-weather braking, check your brake fluid to be sure there is enough and that the fluid is clean and free of contaminants.
* Air conditioning system – Have your air conditioning performance checked. If needed, have it serviced by a qualified technician. Do not use non-approved substitute refrigerants.
* Antifreeze/coolant – Inspect level and condition to make certain the proper mixture of water and coolant is present. Never attempt to remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled. Coolant in the radiator is under pressure and can erupt into steam, causing severe burns.
* Belts and hoses – Extreme heat also stresses these and other under-the-hood components and should be regularly checked for splits and tears. Be sure the vehicle is turned off before inspecting these items.
* Emergency Kits – Since even the best-maintained vehicles can break down, AAA says motorists should equip their vehicles with emergency kits containing at least the following items: a container of water, a flashlight and extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables and a first-aid kit. A cell phone is also a very useful item to have.
Because temperatures inside parked cars can quickly reach dangerous levels, AAA Michigan also cautions:
* Don’t leave children or animals unattended in a car – even for a short period of time.
* When parked, use a sun shield to cover the windshield to minimize heat build-up and to protect the car’s interior.
* Cover metal and plastic parts on safety belts and child safety seats to prevent burns.
* Open the vehicle doors and let the interior cool for a few minutes before entering.
Printed in Volume 1 Issue 12