Friday, June 21, is the first official day of summer.

That means many will travel and take a road trip for summer vacation.

With the summer driving season officially underway, AAA expects to rescue close to 115,000 (114,655) motorists in Virginia and over eight million nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day; many breakdowns, however, are completely preventable.

While some roadside emergencies require towing, dead batteries and tire problems, often very easily preventable service calls, are the top reasons why motorists call AAA. 

As the mercury climb in the summer, so do car battery failures, according to AAA. “Extremely hot summer weather can be just as hard on a vehicle’s battery and rubber components as a cold winter snap. “Most people, however, don’t expect to have car failures in the summer as they do when they go out to start their car in sub-freezing temperatures, “said Meade. 

If a battery is on its last leg, then AAA warns, several days of cumulative heat can zap its last bit of power.

Improperly inflated tires and those which need to be replaced not only impact safety, but are often the reasons for breakdowns, blow outs, and poor gas mileage, yet tire maintenance is often neglected. 

In a recent study, 83% of drivers are unaware of how to properly check tire pressure and only 48% know where to accurately find the information to inflate their tire according to vehicle standards. 

Many drivers believe that the correct pressure indication is located on the sidewall of the tire; however this is the maximum amount of inflation for the tire.  “Drivers need to look in their car owner’s manual or on the label located on the driver’s side door to find the appropriate tire inflation pressure for their vehicle,” said Meade. 

Another common oversight is waiting too long to replace tires when the tread is worn to the point of causing dangerous driving conditions. 

How can you tell if it is time to replace your tires?  To evaluate a tire’s current tread, simply place an upside down penny into the tire tread, and if you see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire is bald and needs to be replaced. 

Service your Battery – AAA expects to service nearly 29,000 Virginia motorists with dead batteries this summer.  If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a professional technician to help avoid unexpected issues.

Air Conditioning CheckVehicles without air conditioning are miserable on hot summer days.  If you have noticed a decrease in cooling capability, have your air conditioning system examined by a qualified technician.

Fluids for Windshield Washer/WipersFilthy windshields compromise the driver’s vision and safety.  AAA recommends replacing wiper blades every six to 12 months or with every oil change.

Emergency Roadside KitAAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit every season.

Tire Inflation and ConditionCheck tire inflation pressure at least once a month and use the correct inflation pressure recommended by the car manufacturer (located in the owner’s manual or inside the driver’s side door).  Make sure to check your car tires when they are “cold” or have not been driven for at least three hours to ensure tire pressure accuracy. 

Regular MaintenanceIf it’s almost time for scheduled maintenance, have your car served before a road trip to give you peace of mind.

Inspect under the Hood: Belts, Hoses and FluidsReplace any that are leaking, cracked, frayed, brittle, bulging or excessively soft.  Remember to check the engine coolant level, engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. 

Prepare and Plan AheadChart out driving routes and, when possible, reserve accommodations in advance.  Be prepared for busy roads during popular travel times and if you are able consider leaving earlier or later to avoid traffic.