(ARA) - While summer's record-setting temperatures may be starting to fade, many motorists are unaware that their cars may be experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion. From batteries to tires, heat takes a toll on vehicles.

Before you head out for your next road trip, AutoZone recommends performing a few proactive checks to help prevent a costly and unpleasant breakdown.

Test batteries. Heat is a battery's worst enemy. Corrosion caused by heat is the leading cause of battery failure. Many batteries that fail in fall and winter months had already been significantly weakened during the preceding hot summer months.

A vehicle may experience very subtle signs of battery failure that usually go unnoticed, therefore, drivers should make a battery condition check a part of their cars' regular maintenance schedule. Motorists who are concerned that their batteries may be failing should get them checked or replaced immediately.

Check fluids. Checking and maintaining the levels on key fluids such as transmission fluid, coolant and engine oil can prevent engines from overheating.

One of the key functions of motor oil is to transfer heat away from the hot points within the engine so it can run cooler and operate efficiently. Using a lower viscosity, full synthetic engine oil such as Mobil 1 Advance Fuel Economy can protect critical engine parts, even at temperatures as high as 500 degrees.

Inspect tires for wear and appropriate tire pressure. Heat can cause tire pressure to rise. Tire problems are the leading cause of breakdowns. Under-inflated tires can lead to blowouts and serious accidents. The appropriate tire pressure amount can be found inside the driver-side door on most vehicles.

Keep the air filter clean. Replacing a clogged air filter can lead to increased performance and acceleration. Air filters should be checked at every oil change and replaced every 12,000 miles.

Check and replace vital vehicle components. Replace components such as spark plugs and oxygen sensors at recommended intervals. Regular maintenance can prevent costly damage, improve fuel efficiency and prevent a breakdown.

Perform routine scheduled maintenance checks. Motorists should check their owner's manual for a schedule of recommended maintenance intervals from the vehicle manufacturer. If the owner's manual has been lost, many websites, such as the National Car Care Council's website, www.carcare.org, offer a recommended maintenance schedule for vehicles.

Be prepared. Visit an automotive retailer to purchase a roadside emergency kit. Also keep items such as a tire pressure gauge, spare serpentine belt and jumper cables handy in case of a breakdown.

Jody Devere, CEO of Ask Patty, an automotive advice website, recommends checking and maintaining critical vehicle components as the hot summer comes to an end.

"Many vehicle components can be weakened during continuous days of hot weather," Devere says. "Checking and replacing key vehicle components in early fall can uncover any damage that occurred during the hot summer months."As summer winds down, cars still suffer effects of heat exposure

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Category: Automotive