As the summer months fade away and millions of Americans prepare for the colder weather, AAA East Central is reminding drivers about the importance of properly maintaining their vehicles. There are a few simple things every driver can do to make sure their car is ready for the road.
“Understanding common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said Scott Tennant, director of AAA East Central’s Auto Service Department. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle, help prevent costly repairs and keep you and others safe on the roads. For those who are unable to perform the maintenance on their own vehicles, I would recommend that they have their vehicles inspected by one of our Approved Auto Repair facilities, prior to the winter season.”
AAA recommends the following for every motorist to perform on a regular basis:
Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires
The pressure on all tires—including the spare— should be checked monthly, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Also note that the pressure levels on some cars are different for the front and rear tires.
Check the tread depth on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Also, look for uneven tire wear when checking the tread. This can be an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems that need to be addressed.
Ensure Your Car Battery is Properly Charged
Extreme temperatures break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.
At every oil change, check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals is the best way to remove external corrosion. Most car batteries have a three- to five-year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns. If your battery is getting old, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by using AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it needs to be replaced. Visit AAA.com/battery for more information on AAA Battery Service.
Keep Those Wipers Working
Inspect the wiper blades monthly. Check to see if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age. Damaged wiper blades won’t adequately remove debris, compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain, and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and a replacement is needed.
The windshield washer fluid reservoir also should be checked monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects or other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Also, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.
Work with a Local Repair Shop You Trust
Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit www.aaa.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:
Does the facility have up-to-date equipment?
Were you offered a written estimate?
Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?
Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?
When having your car serviced, follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to avoid under- or over-maintaining your vehicle. Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The maintenance schedule for these services and more can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit organization with 82 local offices in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and New York, servicing 2.7 million members.