Wednesday marked the fifth straight day during which at least part of New Jersey registered 90-plus degree temperatures, qualifying the stretch as the Garden State's first of what could be several heat waves in 2021.

Even with temps aiming lower on Thursday, it's a good time to ensure vehicles are up to the challenge of hot weather, according to Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic manager of public & government affairs.

"This kind of weather can have a cumulative effect on your vehicle, and while many vehicles have survived the first one, many motorists have not been so lucky," Noble said.

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The effects can be magnified if a car has been largely neglected in the past year due to the discouragement of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Noble said, and can become all too obvious on a long, summer road trip.

Tire pressure is one thing that can quickly go south if a vehicle owner isn't paying attention, and it can quite literally be deflating.

"When that happens, you are primed for a blowout, especially in these hot temperatures," Noble said. "So good tire maintenance is key, because it truly is where the rubber meets the road."

Like tires, batteries are something Noble said drivers tend to think about more in cold weather than hot, but they should be attended to as well.

"Batteries that sit dormant can have a negative effect on your vehicle. So if your battery is three to five years old, it is the perfect time to have that battery tested by a qualified mechanic," she said.

And also, make sure all fluids are topped off, especially coolant.

"Some people might even need to have their air conditioners looked at or recharged, so using this time of year to make sure that your vehicle has a good once-over is really key," Noble said.

Noble suggests assembling an emergency kit for the car that includes a cell phone and car charger, flashlight, first-aid kit, non-perishable food for both humans and pets, jumper cables, and flares or reflectors.

She also said drinking water is a must, but be careful, as it may overheat just like the rest of a car would.

During the first three days of the heat wave, Saturday through Monday, AAA responded to more than 4,600 motorist calls in New Jersey for heat-related issues, and Noble said crews are prepared to handle many more in the months ahead.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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