The recent heat is leading to an increase in vehicle breakdowns. AAA Ohio Auto Club responds to hundreds more calls on a hot, humid summer day than on a cooler summer day. Most of these calls are packed into the hottest part of the day, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Emergency road service crews respond to about 1,200-1,300 calls per day in AAA Ohio Auto Club’s 38-county territory when high temperatures hit the 80s and 90s. 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 of 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.

* Top off fluids: Most fluids not only lubricate, but also serve as coolants by carrying heat away from critical engine components. When fluid levels are low, this cooling effect is reduced, and the probability of overheating increases. It’s important to keep up on routine oil changes, as reputable shops will also inspect other fluid levels when changing the oil.

Even with proper maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur. AAA recommends every driver have an emergency kit in their vehicle, which includes water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency reflectors, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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

Auto experts offer tips to avoid heat-related breakdowns

Staff report