“October is AAA Car Care Month, and it is the perfect time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the changing seasons,” says Tom Ashley, executive vice president at AAA East Central. “We recommend motorists take some preventative maintenance steps now to avoid what could be a costly breakdown later.”
Most of the items on AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can be inspected by owners in less than an hour.
Some of them include:
Battery and Charging System – AAA’s No. 1 service call during the winter months are dead batteries. Have your battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.
Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. Testing tire tread is easy: insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
Tire Pressure – As the temperature drops, so will the pressures in the tires—typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. And, don’t forget to check the spare.
Wiper Blades – Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. In areas with snowy conditions, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade in a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the rubber blade and the glass.
Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components for cold weather use.
Coolant Levels – If your engine coolant level is low, add the recommended coolant to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.
The full AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.
It’s also recommended that motorist have 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
• 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)
While most of the items on the list can be performed at home, several others should be performed by a certified technician.