AAA: Extreme heat leads to spike in vehicle breakdowns

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — AAA Tidewater says the oppressive heat is keeping their crews busy from the Peninsula down to the Southside.

The agency has more than 50 drivers on the road during peak times and each truck has been responding to 9 to 17 calls per day, according to Glenn Robinson, a supervisor based out of their Virginia Beach office.

Robinson says many of the cars they service are less than 10-years-old. Robinson says car batteries in newer cars deteriorate faster because of the added technology in vehicles.

Robinson says drivers should be careful if their car battery gives off a rotten egg smell.

“If you smell that sulfuric gas smell, don’t try to start the car. Call us out there. Don’t try to jump start it, because that is a very explosive gas.”

Jennifer Grape says she was driving down I-264 East in Virginia Beach Monday night when her car came to a stop.

“All of the sudden I’m stopped and I see this smoke or steam coming out of my car, and I’m like, ‘well, this isn’t good,'” said Grape.

Grape says she pulled her 2005 Chevy Cavalier to the shoulder. The car sat idle Tuesday night in the parking lot of a Pep Boys location, where she’s paying mechanics $500 to replace her busted radiator and thermostat.

Robinson says it’s common for cars to overheat. He says it’s important to regularly schedule an oil change and to always refill fluids to keep your car’s cooling system running at peak performance.

“You always want to keep a check on your antifreeze,” he said. “Just because there is enough antifreeze in your vehicle, doesn’t mean the antifreeze is still good. You always want to change it every couple years and get the system flushed out.”

Robinson says roads can buckle as temperatures soar. He says many newer cars do not come with a spare tire, which is why many call AAA technicians to help them out in the hot weather.

AAA says about 40 percent of drivers do not have an emergency kit in their car. They recommend having a kit filled with jumper cables, road flares, food, water and a flashlight.

AAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015, according to a news release. More than 180,000 of those drivers were serviced in the Greater Hampton Roads area.

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