OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahoma reaches triple-digit temperatures, AAA is offering some tips to help your car survive the heat.

In 2022, AAA emergency roadside service crews responded to more than 80,000 requests for assistance in Oklahoma. More than half of those calls involved some type of engine breakdown in which the vehicle needed to be towed, almost 18% of the calls were battery related and more than 13% involved tire issues, according to AAA Oklahoma.

“While many drivers think about the importance of readying their vehicle for cold weather when winter nears, AAA actually receives more emergency roadside service calls for help from members in the summer,” says Rylie Mansuetti, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma.

AAA Oklahoma is reminding driver of some key things to remember this summer:

1. Batteries

Intense heat can hurt your battery, even more than the cold. Faster battery fluid evaporation can cause corrosion on terminals and connections. AAA is reminding drivers to clean any corrosive build up from your battery’s terminals and cable clamps, and make sure the clamps are secure enough that they will not move.

If your car’s battery is older than three years old, it may be good idea to have it checked out by a trained technician.

2. Coolant

Car engines work overtime in the summer and it is the cooling systems job to keep the engine from getting too hot. In addition, additives in the coolant keep the radiator and internal engine components safe from wear and corrosion.

However, coolant becomes contaminated over time and it cannot do its job as well. Without correct cooling system maintenance, the chances of long-term engine damage increases.

Be sure to also flush the system and replace the coolant periodically as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. See the owner’s manual to determine the service interval right for your car. Between flushes, make sure to fill coolant to the correct levels by checking the overflow reservoir. If needed, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer. 

CAUTION! Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns. 

Also, inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of wear and tear, which is common in extreme heat. Worn parts are more susceptible to failure in hot conditions and may need replacing.

3. Tires

Driving on under-inflated tires not only affects the handling and braking of a car, it can also cause tires to overheat and increase the chances of a blowout. This issue becomes an even bigger problem when road temperatures are extremely high. 

According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, under-inflated tires create excessive heat build-up and stress, causing irregular wear and internal damage.

Inflate tires to the recommended pressure set by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number on the tire. Recommended tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker usually on the driver’s doorjamb or the inside of the glove compartment door. 

While checking the tire pressures—including the spare—drivers also should look over tire treads for good depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.  

4. Engine fluids

Engine fluids are vital to keeping a vehicle running smoothly. Most fluids not only lubricate, they also serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from important areas.

When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect weakens, and the possibility of overheating increases. Drivers should check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to make sure they are filled to the proper levels. If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid mentioned in the owner’s manual.

5. Air conditioning

Keeping a comfortable driving environment lowers fatigue, which can play an important part in driver alertness and safety. During intense summer heat, an operating air conditioning system can be more than just a convenience.

If a car’s air conditioning is not keeping the interior as cool as it did in the past, it may mean the refrigerant level is low or there is another issue. Have the air conditioning system checked by a certified technician.

Plenty of automotive climate control systems today have a cabin filter that keeps outside debris from entering. If your car has one, it should be inspected and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.

Pack a Summer Emergency Kit

Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still happen, so AAA recommends every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit in their car. The kit should include:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Road flares or an emergency beacon
  • Basic hand tools
  • First aid kit

“A few preventive maintenance steps can help keep your vehicle running smoothly,” Mansuetti added.

For more information, visit cluballiance.aaa.com.