JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The extreme heat in July, along with more summer road trips, took a toll on vehicles in Mississippi this summer.

According to AAA, the company’s Emergency Roadside Service crews responded to 6,781 stranded drivers, which is a five-year high for the state.

AAA officials recommend drivers have their vehicles thoroughly inspected and regularly maintained.

“A perfect mixture of extreme heat, increased traffic, and older vehicles remaining on the roads made July one of the busiest months on record for breakdowns,” said AAA Vice President of Automotive Services Ray Posey. “While AAA is always ready to respond to roadside emergencies, a professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown.”

Here are some summer vehicle maintenance tips from AAA:

Battery 

According to AAA, dead batteries were the number one reason drivers in Mississippi called for assistance. Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies, leading to internal breakdown and eventual failure.  

  • Make sure your battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration.  
  • Clean any corrosive buildup from battery terminals and cable clamps, as heat can cause faster evaporation of battery fluid, which leads to corrosion.  
  • Ensure clamps are tight enough that they will not move.  
  • If a battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer it will last.  
  • Park in the shade whenever possible, turn off lights, wipers, and unplug phone chargers and USB cables to prevent unnecessary drain on the battery. 

Engine  

  • Between flushes, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level by checking the overflow reservoir.  
  • If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer.   
  • Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns.   
  • Rubber cooling system components are susceptible to heat-related deterioration, so periodically inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.  

Tires  

  • Check tire pressure often as tires lose pressure naturally (typically 1–3 psi per month) because a tire’s sidewall is permeable.  
  • Low tire pressure results in poor handling and braking, reduced gas mileage and excessive wear. So be sure to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month—especially before a long trip.  
  • Check the tread depth. A tire’s ability to stop within a safe distance becomes compromised when its tread depth reaches 4/32 inch. An easy way to determine if a tire is worn out is to place an upside-down quarter (not a penny) in a tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.  
  • Know the tire’s age. As a tire ages, its rubber becomes hard and brittle, losing elasticity and strength. Therefore, the older a tire, the higher the risk for failure. The age of your tire can be found by checking the last four DOT numbers stamped on a tire’s sidewall; for example, 0419 means the tire was manufactured in the fourth week of 2019. AAA recommends replacing any tire that’s six years old or older.  
  • For more tire safety tips, drivers can visit AAA.com/TireTips  

AAA also recommends drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their cars. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.