With high temperatures forecasted near 90 degrees recently, AAA expects an increased number of vehicle breakdowns, and cautions against leaving pets and children in hot vehicles.
AAA Ohio Auto Club responds to hundreds more calls per day when temperatures soar into the upper 80s and 90s. Most of these calls are packed into the hottest part of the day, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. While crews aim to get motorists back on the go, without having to tow them, the heat causes more hard breakdowns on vehicle electrical and cooling systems, which require tows.
Automotive experts say many of these breakdowns can be prevented with the following routine maintenance:
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. In addition, worn tires can't grip the road during wet weather conditions, which can lead to hydroplaning.
Check battery twice a year: Vehicle batteries typically last 3-5 years. Heat degrades a battery's interior components and shortens its life. Depending on the demands of the vehicle electrical system and driving habits, prolonged heat can even be harder on a battery than cold.
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.
Prevent Hot Car Deaths:
Already in 2017, 21 children have died after being left in a hot car. AAA cautions motorists to never leave their children or pets in their cars, even for a few minutes.
In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees.
Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
Even with outside temperatures in the 60s, the temperature inside a parked car can rise well above 110 degrees.
Young children are especially susceptible to heatstroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults' bodies. AAA recommends using the acronym ACT to help prevent hot car tragedies:
A Avoid heat stroke by never leaving a child alone in a vehicle even for a minute.
C Create a system to help remember that the child is in the vehicle.
For example, keep a stuffed toy in the car seat when the child is not seated there, and move it to the front seat when the child is in the vehicle, or keep the diaper bag in the front seat when transporting the child.
T Take action by calling 911 if you spot a child left alone in a parked vehicle.
In addition, parents should never let their children play around the car. Make sure to lock the vehicle, including the trunk, and close the windows when the car is not in use. Also, keep the keys and remote out of reach.
Pets are also susceptible to death or illness in a hot car. Dogs don't sweat the same way humans do, so it's harder for them to cool themselves. Experts say that animals can actually suffer brain damage or even die of heatstroke within just 15 minutes of being trapped inside a hot car.
A new Ohio law, which took effect Aug. 29, 2016, protects kids and pets left in vehicles. As long as the door is locked and the police have been called, a bystander is allowed to break a car window without fear of being sued for the damage or charged criminally.
For additional information on preventing hot car deaths, visit http://safeseats4kids.aaa.com/heatstroke-prevention/.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.