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Don't Let Your Car Have a "Melt Down" This Summer

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DON'T LET YOUR CAR HAVE A "MELT DOWN" IN THE SIZZLING SUMMER TEMPERATURES: AAA Urges Motorists to Schedule Important Summer Maintenance

Sizzling summer temperatures could leave motorists stranded and calling AAA for roadside assistance. That's why routine summer maintenance should be at the top of your "to do" list this week.

"Extreme heat is not only tough on you," according to Steve Popovich, Managing Director of AAA East Central's Automotive Service Department. "It is especially hard on vehicle batteries. In fact, if the battery is older than two years, it should be tested by a qualified technician to make sure it has the starting power to handle the stress of extreme temperatures."

To help motorists beat the heat, the Automotive Service Department at AAA East Central offers the following advice on maintaining your vehicle during the dog days of summer:

Check the level and conditions of the motor oil. Check your owner's manual for specific recommendations.

Check brake fluid level and condition. It is vital to maintain the proper level and that the fluid is free of contaminants to ensure reliable hot-weather braking.

Check the performance of the air conditioning system. If needed have it serviced by a qualified technician.

Inspect antifreeze/coolant level and condition, making certain 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 also are stressed by extreme heat and should be regularly inspected. Be sure the vehicle engine is turned off before inspecting these items.

Since even the best maintained vehicles can break down, AAA says motorists should equip their vehicles with emergency kits containing at least the following items: container of water, flashlight with extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables and a first-aid kit. In addition, a AAA membership card should be kept on hand, as well as a cell phone.

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

Don't leave children or animals unattended in a car - not even for a short period of time

When parked, use a sun shield to cover the windshield to minimize heat build-up 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.