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Experts stress the importance of keeping cars cool

July 19, 2007|by CATHERINE SUDUE

HAGERSTOWN - A sign posted near the garage doors of Crenshaw's Auto Repair asks customers, "Is your car ready for summer?"

On all but three days this month, temperatures have climbed into the 80s and 90s, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at www.i4weather.net.

Experts say heat can have a disastrous effect on motor vehicles.

Howie Weeks, owner of Crenshaw's Auto Repair at 67 W. Baltimore St., said he believes proper year-round maintenance prepares vehicles to withstand the heat of summer.

"One of the major steps in preparing your car for the summer is to check your coolant," Weeks said.

Coolant is important because as the temperature rises, a car's cooling system works harder to keep the engine cool.

A combination of high temperatures and a cooling system that lacks proper fluids can cause a car to overheat, Weeks said.

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Eddie Forsythe, store manager at Byrd Tyre at 1729 Dual Highway, said he has seen that problem plenty of times, both in the winter and summer.

"We have a temperature gauge that goes into the coolant reservoir" to check the efficiency of the coolant, Forsythe said. "Thirty-five (degrees) below (zero) means that it's a good (cooling) system."

Allen Cool, supervisor of the central maintenance garage for the City of Hagerstown's fleet, said he believes the leading reasons for car problems are heat and friction.

"Heat causes wear. It's (one of) the automobile's and equipment's worst enemy," Cool said. "Summer naturally brings on more heat. It's hard for the cooling system and oil" to handle extreme temperatures.

With four full-time mechanics and an administrative specialist, Cool's team maintains dump trucks and police and utility vehicles for the city. They do not service the city's fire department vehicles, which are taken to outside vendors for maintenance.

According to Alfred Martin, finance director for the City of Hagerstown, the city budgeted about $404,000 in the 2007 budget for servicing the city's fleet of vehicles. Of that, about $208,000 was budgeted for vehicles sent to the city's central maintenance garage, and about $196,000 was allotted for vehicles sent to outside vendors.

The large sum of money placed toward vehicle maintenance can be lessened and even avoided through preventative maintenance, Cool said.

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