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Hot Wheels: Your Guide to Safer Summer Driving

Hot weather is hard on you and your car, and as summer starts to heat up around the province, staying prepared could save you from unnecessary trouble. BCAA’s Automotive Manager Josh Smythe says “this isn’t the summer to skip your vehicle’s regular service,” and advises summer travellers to approach road trips in the same way they do winter expeditions. That means properly prepping their wheels and themselves for all scenarios, including breakdowns. Here’s how:

Have your trusted mechanic check the level and concentration of engine coolant and top up as necessary. Check your owner’s manual to find the correct coolant type and strength for your vehicle.

Ensure the air conditioner is blowing cold air. If it’s not, you might want to get it checked for leaks, or it may require a flush.

Change your oil regularly to help prolong your engine’s life. Check your owner’s manual for when the service intervals should be.

Check the age and strength of the battery. Heat is harder on a tired cell than cold. A five year old battery is usually nearing retirement.

Ensure tires are properly inflated and in good condition. Replace them if they’re cracked or low on tread. Don’t forget the spare.

Keep the gas tank more than half full. This will keep the fuel cool and not overwork your alternator.

Use folding sunshades when parked to lower the temperature inside the vehicle.

Slow down on the road. This saves gas and reduces the likelihood of the engine overheating.

Be prepared for a breakdown. Carry water, food, a fully charged phone and some type of portable shade, such as a hat or umbrella. In case you have to call for help, dial 1.800.222.4357 for BCAA Roadside Assistance. Not a Member? Sign up today for less than $7 a month!

Be proactive and play it safe this summer by booking an appointment with one of our automotive experts at a BCAA Auto Service Centre. BCAA Auto Service Centres offer battery, fluid, brake & tire checks with every Oil Change Package. Plus, until September 30, BCAA Members can save 10% off any service or repair.


The Burning Truth About Parked Cars

It seems hard to believe, but BCAA typically gets one call a day to open a vehicle in which kids or pets are trapped. "We make it our highest priority because the temperature increase inside a car can be sudden and dramatic; it can reach a dangerous level in as few as 10 minutes," says Josh Smythe.

A dog can suffer organ damage in 10 minutes at high temperatures. Josh advises leaving pets at home if possible and never, ever leaving a child or any living thing in a parked vehicle, even in moderately warm weather. "Leaving windows partially open is not always enough to counter the danger," he says, "if you see a person or pet in this situation, by all means, call Road Assist, but if a life is at risk, call 911 immediately."

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Photo credit: Stesha Ho