AAA: Cold mornings are a good reminder to check your vehicle

aaaThis morning’s chilly temps and forecasts of overnight temperatures near or below freezing this week are prompting AAA Mid-Atlantic to urge drivers to get a seasonal check-up of key vehicle systems.

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

“If your car is struggling in warmer weather, things are only going to get worse when winter sets in,” said Morgan Dean from AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Regular maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs down the road.”

Worry-free driving once nasty weather and winter driving conditions arrive may depend upon whether drivers follow a few simple steps to make sure their vehicles are ready. Some checks can be performed by a car owner in less than an hour. Others should be performed by a certified technician.

Winter Car Prep

Battery: 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. Most batteries last 3 to 5 years, but give little warning prior to failure.  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.

Tires: Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance.

Engine: 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. Engine hoses and belts should be inspected for wear or cracking.

Fluids: Important system fluids such as engine coolant/anti-freeze, transmission and brake fluid should be checked and changed at recommended intervals.

Exhaust: Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.

Brakes: Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly.

Wipers: Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. 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.

Lights: Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.

Storm Ready: 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)
  • PPE Items-Extra masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes

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