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AAA: When It's Hot, Watch Your Engine Warning Lights - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

AAA: When It's Hot, Watch Your Engine Warning Lights

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LEXINGTON, Ky  (LEX 18) –  Our first real heat wave is arriving mid- week, and AAA expects an increase in breakdowns, bad batteries, blowouts, blown head gaskets, and in member service calls.

Battery trucks and tow trucks are on standby to rescue  Kentucky motorists as the heat and humidity combine to the highest heat indexes of the summer.

With a heat advisory in place, AAA cautions motorists not to underestimate the ways in which record temperatures can wreak havoc on vehicles.  “Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is not only a major threat to passengers and drivers, but a vehicle concern as well,” said Lilla Mason, AAA Spokesperson. “Knowing the dangers, and preparing your vehicle for extreme heat can prevent an expensive repair bill, and keep your vehicle running smoothly during the hot summer months.”

Three of the “four most expensive car repair problems” can occur during the extreme heat, including repairing and replacing a  blown motor, a blown head gasket and a suddenly non-functioning, non-cooling, air conditioner compressor, according to top-notch certified mechanics. Automobile engines work extra hard in the summer, and it is the cooling system’s job to protect the engine from overheating.

The repair bills can prove extremely costly. Depending upon the make and model, the repair bill can soar to $900 in parts and $2,000 in labor. That’s expensive. A blown head gasket can set you back between “$1,200 and $1,600” in repair costs, according to some estimates. “Engine and engine cooling problems” are the most common car problem for “most car brands and models,” automotive repair experts say. It escalates during the summer months and intensifies during a protracted heat wave.

Keep an eye on the temperature gauges. The simple fact is, an engine can overheat for a host of reasons, including problems with the radiator, the radiator hoses, or the water pump or the thermostat, or the cooling fan or the fan switch. Let’s round up the usual suspects, including, low coolant, a bad cooling fan, a faulty thermostat, or  plugged coolant passageways. If the increase in temperature is not stopped, major engine damage or catastrophic failure will result. While the engine temperature light also indicates the potential for severe engine damage, it normally gives you a little more time to take action before that occurs, advises AAA .  Here are some things to watch:

           •  The engine temperature light (usually a thermometer symbol or the word “TEMP”) comes on when the engine temperature has

                 exceeded the safe maximum.

           •  If there are any signs of a cooling system leak, such as steam or liquid coolant coming from under the hood, pull off the road at the

                Earliest opportunity, shut off the engine, and call AAA for assistance. Boiling coolant can cause severe burns, so be careful when

                opening the hood in the presence of steam, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

          •   If there is no evidence of a cooling system leak, the overheating may have resulted from a temporary overload of the cooling system.

               This can sometimes occur in hot weather when the vehicle is heavily loaded or pulling a trailer.

          •   To help lower the engine temperature, reduce vehicle speed, turn off the air conditioning, roll down the windows, set the heater to

                the full hot position and operate the blower motor on its highest setting.

          •   If the warning light does not go out within a couple miles, pull off the road at the first safe opportunity and allow the engine to cool

                               while idling. If the temperature warning light still does not go off after a couple of minutes, shut off the engine and call AAA for

                               assistance.

If you think your vehicle is experiencing problems due to the extreme summer heat, have it checked out by a trained automotive technician. In addition, motorists can take their vehicles to one of several AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities here in Lexington. These are high-quality auto repair facilities they can trust to work on their vehicle.  Find the facility nearest you at aaa.com/autorepair.

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than 630,000 members in Kentucky.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book  a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit www.aaa.com.

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