Avoiding problems with your car this weekend, in the heat

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - AAA says the Independence Day holiday weekend is their busiest all year long. They expect to service many cars that are simply stuck on the side of the road.

It's simply the sun beating down and temperatures soaring that can suck the energy out of your car. So before you leave, there are a few simple things you can check in your own driveway.

"It's a good idea to do a visual inspection of belts, hoses -- check all your fluid levels before you leave," said NBC12 Automotive Expert, Emmerson Miles.

Of course, there's no guarantee something won't happen, but it can't hurt to check your belts.

"If it's frayed, strings are hanging off of it, it's in bad shape. I twist them around to make sure it's not cracked," said Miles about the belt.

For hoses, "you want to make sure there are no embolisms, cracks or anything like that. Look for antifreeze drops on the ground, obviously. That's the tale tell sign if there is a problem," added Miles.

Of course, those are problems you don't want. AAA estimates it will get about 6,000 calls road assistance calls between now and July 5 here in Central Virginia.

A lot of those problems happen when you're stuck in traffic, with your car simply idling.

"If you've got a marginal radiator, or electric fan that's not working or fan clutch that fails, yes that's when it's a good chance it's going to act up when you are sitting in traffic. That's a good time to be monitoring your gauges," said Miles.

If that happens, pull off the road right away. If you don't, the damage to your engine could be beyond repair. This is also the season for car battery replacements.

AAA says the recession plays a role in some of these problems, since a lot of people are holding onto cars longer than normal.

In the past year or so, Emmerson Miles has actually seen more people coming in to get maintenance done on their car, which of course, is a good thing especially heading into a hot, holiday weekend.

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