Roadside Assistance Calls Spike Because of Extreme Heat

AAA Mid-Atlantic received more than 900 Roadside Assistance Service calls from New Jersey motorists just by noon, Monday, Aug. 15, with most breakdowns being a result of the extreme heat. Likewise, more than 2800 calls were received over the weekend, Saturday, Aug. 13 and Sunday, Aug 14. The majority of drivers called for help with dead batteries, flat tires, and cars needing a tow. 

"Exposure to extreme temperatures, hot or cold can have a negative effect on your car, says Sue Madden, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "With this excessive heat, you may find yourself stranded and in a dangerous situation. Careful preparation of your car is crucial to weathering summer's hottest temperatures."

The National Weather Service is calling for an "excessive heat warning" for the area until Tuesday afternoon.

Motorists will beat the summer heat by following AAA Mid-Atlantic's advice on preparing a vehicle for extended, super-hot and humid days:

" Batteries more than two years old should be tested by a qualified technician to ensure they have the starting power to handle the stress of extreme temperatures.

" Motor oil plays an important role in keeping the engine cool: Check oil level and condition. Driving under extreme conditions, such as over mountains or towing a heavy trailer? Switch to a motor oil with higher viscosity. Check the owner's manual for specific oil recommendations.

" Check air conditioning system performance. If needed, have it serviced by a qualified technician. Do not use non-approved substitute refrigerants. Check the owner's manual for approved types.

" Inspect antifreeze/coolant level and condition: Ensure the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.

" If your car overheats, never attempt to remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled. Coolant in the radiator is under pressure and can flash into steam, causing severe burns.

Other 'under-the-hood' components such as belts and hoses, often made of rubber parts, also become stressed by extreme heat and should be regularly inspected. Be sure the vehicle engine is turned off before inspecting these items.

Because temperatures inside parked cars can quickly reach dangerous levels, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following additional advice:

" Never leave children or animals unattended in a car--not even for a short period of time. Outside air temperatures in the nineties can rise to 125 degrees inside the vehicle within 20 causing brain damage or death.

" When parked, use a sun shield to cover the windshield to minimize heat buildup and to help protect the car's interior. Cover metal and plastic parts on seat belts and child safety seats to prevent burns.

" Open the vehicle's doors and let the interior cool for a few minutes before entering.

" Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicle. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools, and a first aid kit.

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