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October 14, 2014 Published in Traffic & Transportation

As Temperatures Cool, AAA Urges Motorists To Prepare For New Season Of Driving

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With almost 1.6 million AAA roadside assistance calls recorded this year in AAA Mid-Atlantic’s foot print, AAA reminds motorists that cars need periodic checkups to maintain safety and maximize efficiency.

AAA recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician.

Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign or visit a AAA Car Care Center. These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness. Nearby shops can be located at AAA.com/repair.

Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
  • Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:
    • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
    • Drinking water
    • First-aid kit
    • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
    • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
    • Snow shovel
    • Blankets
    • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Window washer solvent
    • Ice scraper with brush
    • Cloth or roll of paper towels
    • Jumper cables
    • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
    • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

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