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Summer Safety #2: Avoid Auto Wreck Risk

Summer safety week at HensonFuerst continues today with tips for the road that could help you to avoid a breakdown or an accident.

We know that heat can affect the way our bodies run, but it also poses a danger for your car.  High heat is “a real car killer,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Martha Mitchell Meade in an Associate Press article published Thursday.

Here are some tips for how to prepare your car for the stress of summertime heat:

Maintenance and Performance

  • Cooling system. Most summer breakdowns are caused by overheating. Make sure your cooling system is checked out at the beginning of the season, and recheck coolant levels regularly, especially if you drive a lot of miles. (FYI: Wait until the car is cool before removing the radiator cap–too many people have been burned by hot water and steam.)
  • Tires. Keep tires inflated to proper pressure, and replace bald tires. Roadways are 15 to 20 degrees hotter than air temperature. A bald or underinflated tire heats up more quickly , breaks down more quickly, and is more likely to blow out. Rotate your tires every time you have your oil changed (and change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, as recommended by the vehicle’s manual). FYI: Summer is also the time when trucks are more likely to lose their retreads, so watch for flying bits of tire, too.
  • Check the battery. Car batteries last, on average, 3 to 5 years… and it can fail without warning.  Hot weather can cause corrosion, and corrosion is the biggest cause of car battery failure. According to the Associated Press, AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that service calls for dead batteries in this week’s heat wave jumped  by about 124 percent.

Avoiding Accidents

  • Watch for heat hazards. Just as you need to watch for black ice in winter, summer brings its own set of road issues. In Delaware yesterday, one stretch of highway was backed up for miles when heat buckled a patch of asphalt. Potholes, sinkholes, and heaving can happen out of the clear blue–literally–so keep a watchful eye on the road.
  • Watch for stalled or disabled cars. You have prepared your car for summer, but not everyone is as conscientious. It’s a fact of life: there will be cars abandoned on the shoulder…there will be blown-out tires. Worse, there will be drivers who slow down just to take a good long look at an over-heated engine. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, just in case.
  • Be kind–the car you save may be your own. As temperatures rise, so do tempers…and hot tempers means a greater potential for road rage. Try to be a courteous driver, and give others the benefit of the doubt. Our best advice (pun alert) is to simply chill out.

And one final tip: Keep your car stocked with a summer survival kit, just in case you end up stuck on the side of the road. Items that may come in handy are a charged cell phone, dried fruit or other snacks, bottles of water, a hat (in case you need to walk for help), and an instant cold pack that you can use to help decrease your body temperature in the event of an emergency.

Happy travels!

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