weather icon Partly Cloudy

Southern Nevada drivers, get ready for the desert heat this summer

With schools nearing the end of the academic year, the summer travel season is about to heat up along with the weather.

Before families set out on road trips full of bathroom breaks and the inevitable onslaught of “Are we there yet?,” motorists should ensure that their vehicles are ready for summer travel.

“The desert heat is relentless, especially on our vehicles,” AAA Nevada spokesman Sergio Avila said. “Car batteries, engine cooling systems and tires are all susceptible to breaking down during your summer road trips. The worst way to spend your hard-earned time off is on the side of the road. Many of those types of breakdowns are preventable if drivers take the time to inspect their vehicles. Just think of it as added peace of mind.”

Motorists should not only prepare their vehicles for travel but also be sure to have various items on hand in case of an emergency, Avila said.

Here are some important tips from AAA that will help you get on your way:

Keep your engine cool

Motorists are urged to have their vehicle’s coolant systems flushed periodically, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Between flushes, it’s vital to ensure that the coolant is filled to the proper levels by checking the overflow reservoir and topping off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and coolant of the type specified by the vehicle manufacturer, if needed.

Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot. Boiling coolant under pressure can cause serious burns.

Rubber cooling system components are vulnerable to heat-related deterioration, so regularly inspecting hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition is also recommended.

Keep tires properly inflated

Underinflation can cause tires to overheat and increase the chances of a blowout, especially during the summer months, when road temperatures are extremely high.

Checking your car’s tire pressure, including that of your spare tire, is recommended at least once a month, because tires lose about one pound of pressure per month on average through normal seepage.

Checking pressure when tires are cold is recommended. Always follow the inflation recommendations in the vehicle owner’s manual or on the tire information label either in the glove box or on the driver’s door jamb.

Using the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall is not recommended, as it may not be the correct pressure for a particular vehicle.

Keep fluids at appropriate levels

The majority of engine fluids lubricate and serve as coolants by helping carry heat away from critical components. Keeping fluid levels at recommended levels decreases the possibility of overheating and other preventable engine issues.

Regularly checking all fluids — including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid — is important, even if a vehicle’s dashboard gauge doesn’t indicate that any maintenance is needed. If any fluids need to be topped off, use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.

Keep a comfortable driving environment

Ensuring that the driver is comfortable is key during road trips, as he or she is vital to a safe, enjoyable trip.

A properly functioning air conditioning system can be more than just a convenience, especially in the high summer temperatures seen in the region.

A comfortable climate inside a vehicle can help reduce fatigue, playing an important role in driver alertness and vehicle safety.

If a vehicle’s air conditioning is not maintaining the interior temperature, the refrigerant level may be low, or another problem could be present. AAA reps recommended having the system checked by a certified technician.

In vehicles with cabin filters, the filters should be inspected regularly and replaced as needed to ensure maximum airflow and cooling during the summer months.

Be prepared

Though no one envisions having the vehicle break down on a trip that’s planned for leisure, planning for the unexpected is a must.

Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends that drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicles.

All kits should include water, nonperishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first-aid kit.

So before you hit the road this summer, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the adventure so that rambunctious children are the only hazard you encounter on your journey.

“Life happens, and cars break down. Sometimes it’s unavoidable,” Avila said. “These items could literally be a lifesaver during the height of the desert heat.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Exposure forces closure of Pahrump Justice Court

The Pahrump Justice Court announced Monday that it will be closed effective Tuesday, July 7 because of a COVID-19 exposure.

Tax deadline coming up on July 15

As the July 15 deadline for filing income taxes nears, the IRS is reminding taxpayers who have yet to file that IRS.gov has tools and services to help them meet their tax obligations.

Bars closed again in Nye, 7 other Nevada counties

Nye County was one of seven Nevada counties affected when the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services announced the elevated disease transmission criteria for determining whether a county must revert to Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan for bars.

Appreciation Picnic honors Pahrump’s and Nye’s first responders

With red, white and blue decorations gracing tables, American flags and banners lining the fence and snapping in the breeze, balloons floating in the air and big smiles at the ready, area residents came together last week to honor the men and women who take on the duties of first responders for not just Pahrump but the entire county of Nye.

Pahrump pool season sinks amid lack of lifeguards

After the announcement that the 2020 Pahrump Community Pool season had been scrapped because of a lack of staffing applicants and the subsequent push to get more locals to apply for one one of the open positions that followed, the town of Pahrump was hoping that this year’s pool season would be saved.

UNR scientists make key advance in X-ray images

A team of scientists, led by University of Nevada, Reno’s Hiroshi Sawada, an associate professor of physics, demonstrated that numerical modeling accurately reproduces X-ray images using laser-produced X-rays. The images were obtained using the university’s chirped pulse amplification-based 50-terawatt Leopard laser at their Zebra Pulsed Power Lab.

Studies determine shutdown saved millions

Two separate research studies determined that shutdown orders prevented about 60 million coronavirus infections in the United States and saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries.

Bicyclist dies after being struck by vehicle

A Pahrump man is dead after being struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle Friday evening, July 3rd.

Camp Fire of 2018 leads to new wildfire research

Moved by the tragedy of the 2018 Camp Fire, a team of engineers and scientists are coming together in a new five-year project to develop a comprehensive computational, live digital platform to predict and monitor wildfire risk that can be used by wildfire managers, emergency responders and utility companies to plan for, respond to and remediate wildfires.