Mechanics tell motorists to keep their cars maintained as heat takes its toll

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Breaking down on the road is no fun for motorists, but it’s even more miserable when stuck in triple-digit temperatures waiting for help. 

“It’s typically not bad luck, it’s usually lack of maintenance,” explained Kevin Bishop, general manager at Polar Bear Auto Care in Sacramento.

Bishop said a scheduled visit to the auto shop beats the long wait for emergency work.   

Extreme heat affects the fluids in cars like radiator coolants, oil and brake fluid. All those fluids need functioning hoses and belts to move liquids around.

Bishop said many drivers rely on a “while you wait” oil change shop for their only maintenance. 

“They don’t do hoses, they don’t do belts, so they don’t tell you about that stuff,” he told FOX40. “Three, four, five oil changes down the road, now you’re broken down on the side of the road during vacation with the family and stuff.”

Batteries lose their charge and corrode faster in extreme heat.

The heat also expands air pressure in tires, which is a reason to check the pressure and not to ignore tire pressure warning lights. 

“It’s not just a light up like a Christmas tree, it’s to let you know something needs to be paid attention to before it blows out,” Bishop said.

Most auto mechanics will say that any breakdown, whether it’s in hot weather or not, is no accident. Most of the time, it’s preventable. 

Bishop said modern cars run so well it’s difficult to bring them in for scheduled maintenance, but that’s the only way to prevent many emergency breakdowns. 

As its name implies, Polar Bear Auto Care specializes in air conditioning repairs, as well as general car repairs. Right now, it has a backlog of 50 vehicles waiting up to a week for repairs, including air conditioning work. 

Many customers refuse to drive during a heat wave without air conditioning, making an air conditioning failure an emergency. 

Bishop said take a lesson from his fleet customers who count on him to find problems before it’s too late. 

“So they’re not stuck in the field with a guy and truck sitting on the side of the road, not making any money,” he said.

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