Driving Safety Linda Gorman

Arizonans have devised a variety of ways to retreat from the scorching summer heat, including relaxing indoors or poolside, or escaping it entirely for a summer vacation. However, there’s one thing that can’t escape from the sizzling temperatures — your ride.

Without a doubt, the best way to prevent an untimely breakdown this summer is to keep your vehicle properly maintained. Last summer, AAA responded to more than 198,000 calls for roadside assistance across the state. The majority of these calls could have been avoided with proper vehicle preventative care.

As an automotive resource, AAA Arizona is observing May as Car Care Month by helping drivers make sure their vehicles are ready for the long, hot road ahead. Below are the top three calls for AAA roadside service last summer and how to avoid them this year:

• Dead battery. Last summer, AAA responded to 65,000 battery calls across the state. A car battery only lasts about 32 months in Arizona’s desert climate, and therefore requires regular inspection, especially before the heat arrives.

What to watch for: Dim headlights or interior lights, noticing the car is taking longer to turn over or clicking sounds upon start all signal a dying battery. Test your battery twice a year, replace loose brackets or cables and clear any corrosion from the terminals, case and tray.

• Flat tires. AAA responded to 30,000 calls in Arizona for tire failure last summer. During Arizona’s annual heat wave, temperatures on pavement can reach upward of 135 degrees. Vehicle tires bear the brunt of this heat every day.

What to watch for: Bulges, uneven tread wear and cracks in the sidewall are all early warning signs of tire failure. Visually inspect your tires regularly. In addition, check pressure and tread depth monthly when tires are cool. Tires should always be inflated to the pressure listed in the driver’s side door jamb.

• Vehicle failure. Last summer, AAA responded to more than 92,000 calls for Arizona motorists requiring a tow. While the club is able to get drivers back on the go in many cases, a vehicle may need to be towed to a shop for repair if something more serious is wrong.

What to watch for: Strange sounds, including clicking and grinding, should never go ignored. Any change in the way the vehicle is handling, as well as burning smells or unknown fluid leaks, should prompt immediate attention by your trusted auto technician.

Regular vehicle inspections can help save money, time and help keep you from being stranded in the heat this summer.

• Linda Gorman is the communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or lgorman@arizona.aaa.com.

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