Summer Heat Taking Its Toll On Cars

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) - The extreme heat is taking a toll on area automobiles.  AAA of Missouri reports a 10%-20% spike in the number of calls for roadside assistance.  Cleo Clark was stranded on the shoulder of I-270 Thursday during the evening rush hour.

"It's just too hot and it couldn't take the heat," said Clark.

His car would not start and it appeared his radiator was leaking.

Phil Linck with AAA warns drivers that an overheated car can cause permanent damage to an engine.  He advises drivers to pull over immediately.

"When the hot light comes on with these new aluminum engines you need to shut them down right away," explained Linck.  He said the heat can cause those engines to change shape quickly.

Jeff Coffey, owner of Coffey Automotive in St. Charles says newer cars even prevent a drive from using them once the engine is overheated.

"The computer will turn the gas off automatically for you," said Jeff Coffey.  "It won’t let you overheat the car because it knows you`re going to ruin the motor."

Coffey says summertime heat does far more damage to cars than winter cold.  Some of the problems he has seen in recent days include dead batteries, fuel filter problems and broken thermostats. He blames a lot of problems on drivers skipping scheduled maintenance.

Coffey also believes some older cars are actually better equipped to handle the heat.

"On an older car we would have a radiator that would have twice as much capacity as we really needed," explained Coffey.  He said newer cars don't have the extra capacity because it would add to the vehicles weight which would reduce fuel efficiency.

"If you've got a little bit of corrosion going on you're instantly out of cooling capacity and that car will overheat," said Coffey.