BOISE – As temperatures rise across the Gem State, AAA reminds drivers to keep their vehicle cooling systems in tip-top shape to beat the heat.

“An overheated engine can damage pistons and cylinders and warp the engine block, causing cracks that may produce large oil leaks,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “It’s a good idea to do everything you can to avoid an expensive repair bill.”

To prevent overheating, make sure the cooling system, hoses, and radiator are in good condition – if necessary, have these checked by a trusted mechanic.  Always keep engine fluids at appropriate levels – some businesses offer a free “top off” if you originally purchased service from them.

If your “Check Engine” light or temperature gauge indicate a problem, or if steam is released from under the hood, pull over as soon as you can.  If you can’t pull over immediately, turn off the A/C, and turn on the heat.

Wait for the radiator to cool at least 15 minutes before adding water or coolant.  Never remove a hot radiator cap, which can lead to serious injury.

“If you’re waiting for assistance, raise your hood, put down flares or reflectors, and break out your emergency kit as needed,” Conde said.  “This time of year, keeping a gallon or two of water in your car to cool down cars, people and pets could make all the difference.  Use a blanket or towel to protect your body if you need to kneel or lay down on hot asphalt.”

Drivers should consider visiting a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop as part of a pre-trip inspection.  For more information on facilities in your area, visit