Heat wave causing spike in car breakdowns

From AAA Mid-Atlantic

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As Virginia's  first major heat wave of the summer set in, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that service calls for dead batteries were up as much as 124 percent in the Commonwealth. Overall the auto club serviced an additional 1,300 calls on Monday and Tuesday combined because of the heat.

"Across our region, calls for service are already soaring and we have several more days of even hotter weather predicted, with temps expected to hit the mid-to-upper 90's," said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  "This is bad news for motorists with cars that are not ready for the challenge—and high heat—especially for days on end as it takes a cumulative toll a cars batteries, belts, and hoses."

The club reported a total of over 13,000 dispatched rescues for the first two days of this week for their entire service region.  In Virginia the auto club dispatched 2,694 rescues for the same time period. "As the heat soars and the number of days of heat grow, so too will the member calls for help.  High heat is real car killer," Meade noted.

Surviving on very hot days is uncomfortable enough, so the last place one wants to be in 95+ heat is stranded on the side of the road with no air conditioning or shelter, waiting for assistance," Meade noted.  "Acting in advance to ensure your vehicle is up to the challenge is absolutely the best way to avoid that uncomfortable and dangerous scenario. If there is any good news here, it is that our average response time for those 2,694 dispatched calls in Virginia was only 32.5 minutes—that's great service."

"Common problems associated with extreme heat include engines overheating or losing power due to heavy electrical demands from air conditioning and damage to batteries and rubber items-- hoses, belts and tires--are the most vulnerable," advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.

In view of the prolonged heat wave, the auto club offers the following hot weather car maintenance checklist:

 CHECK - Radiator and Coolant Recovery Tank
 CHECK - Coolant-Hoses and Belts
 CHECK - Tires
 CHECK - Oil 
 CHECK - Battery
 CHECK - Air and Fuel Filters 

If motorist are not comfortable performing this inspection, a qualified auto service facility, such as those recognized by AAA's Approved Auto Repair Program, can conduct a thorough examination. The auto club especially recommends having your vehicle professionally checked by trained technicians before hitting the road for extended trips on hot days.

Because even properly maintained vehicles can break down, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges motorists to equip their vehicle with an emergency kit containing a minimum of the following items: Flashlight with extra batteries, warning devices, such as flares or reflective triangles, first aid kit, and a fully charged cellular phone to summon emergency assistance, and some extra bottles of water to fight dehydration.

"Heat not only has damaging affects on vehicles, but on their drivers and passengers as well," said Meade. "Motorists are reminded to allow the interior of their vehicles to cool before entering and never leave children or animals unattended inside for any length of time."

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips for area motorists traveling during the summer heat:

Take care in transporting older people or young children during the heat of the day, and never leave anyone in a parked car.

Slake the thirst. Children dehydrate much faster than adults. Carry water for children and older persons. Encourage your passengers to drink more than their thirst requires.

If a child is locked inside a vehicle, get him or her out as quickly as possible.
If the child is hot or appears sick, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
After returning home from shopping or a trip to the grocery store, always remove the child first before removing the groceries, items and shopping bags.

If your child is in day care, make sure the center and workers have a plan that safeguards children from being left alone on buses, vans or in cars.

If you spot a child locked in a car on a hot day, call 911 right away.
The same precautions are applicable for pets, which are also very vulnerable to the high heat of a car's interior.

Share the word. Do not be afraid to tell parents or caregivers about the dangers when you see anyone leaving children (or pets) unattended in a vehicle.

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