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Summertime Auto Check-up Can Ease Driver's Worries

30 June 1999

Summertime Auto Check-up Can Ease Driver's Worries; Motorists Can Get Burned by the Heat

    SAN FRANCISCO--June 29, 1999--Sizzling summer temperatures can be tough on vehicles, and can create dangerous situations for motorists according to AAA in Northern California, Nevada and Utah.
    A quick and easy automotive check-up can help prepare a vehicle for the stress of summer's high temperatures and increase reliability on long road trips.
    "Motorists need to take special care when driving in extremely high temperatures," said Bronwyn Hogan, AAA spokeswoman. "The intense heat can tax vehicles and cause them to overheat -- sometimes stranding motorists in dangerous conditions."
    AAA suggests checking these vital components for a summer of trouble-free driving:

--   Prior to your trip, bring your vehicle to a qualified auto
     service facility -- such as those recognized by AAA's Approved
     Auto Repair Program. The vehicle should undergo a complete
     inspection, including the engine oil, battery, tires, cooling
     system, belts and hoses.
--   Keep a close eye on the vehicle's temperature gage. If the
     temperature approaches the gage's red zone, turn off the air
     conditioner, open the windows, and turn the heater on full blast
     to draw excessive heat away from the engine. This will cool the
--   If the temperature continues to rise, or if a warning light
     appears, pull completely off the road at the first safe
     opportunity and turn off the engine to avoid serious damage. To
     help the engine cool off, open the hood. In order to prevent
     serious burns, do not attempt to remove the radiator cap or touch
     engine components until the engine has cooled. If necessary, add
     water and coolant when the radiator is completely cool.

    AAA also warns that summer heat can cause temperatures inside parked vehicles to quickly soar to nearly 200 degrees. To prevent heat-related injuries AAA recommends the following:

--   NEVER leave children or animals unattended in a parked vehicle --
     even for a short time.
--   Open the car doors to let the interior cool for a few minutes
     before entering.
--   If your child or pet gets locked inside the car, dial 911
--   When parked, use a sun shield and lower the vehicle's windows to
     minimize heat buildup and to protect the car's interior.
--   Cover metal and plastic parts on seat belts and child safety
     seats to prevent burns.

    AAA urges motorists to equip their vehicles with an emergency kit containing: a flashlight with extra batteries, warning devices such as flares or reflective triangles, jumper cables and a first-aid kit. Keep a cellular phone in the glove compartment in case of a driving emergency.
    If your car breaks down in summer heat, AAA recommends:

--   Signal and pull completely off the road onto the shoulder.
--   Once on the side of the road, turn on your emergency lights. Use
     extreme caution when exiting the vehicle.
--   Set up flares or reflectors to alert passing motorists.
--   Do not leave your car unless it is with a police officer in a
     marked car, or a clearly marked emergency truck.

    Established nearly 100 years ago, AAA offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance and financial services. The California State Automobile Association serves nearly 4 million members and is the second largest regional affiliate of the national AAA organization.