Posts Tagged ‘Car Help’

Ginnie PritchettAAA, the nation’s largest motor club, shares useful tips for drivers during Car Care Month

ORLANDO, Fla., (October 1, 2013) – October is Car Care Month and AAA 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.

“Learning how to handle common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said John Nielsen, managing director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs.”

Below are four simple car care practices AAA recommends every motorist perform on a regular basis:

Additional Resources

Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires

83% of American do not know how to properly inflate their tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. 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. 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.

Every driver at some point deals with a flat tire. Click here for a step-by-step video that shows how to prepare for and repair or replace a flat tire.

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.

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.  Click here to learn more.

The windshield washer fluid reservoir 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?

Click here for more on finding the right automotive repair shop for you.

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.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA cautions drivers to prepare for winter driving before the flakes start to fall

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 18, 2012) –   Nearly one-quarter of weather related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement,  resulting in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 people injured annually, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.  With AccuWeather’s winter forecast calling for above-normal snowfall in some parts of the country and the first official day of winter December 21, AAA recommends motorists brush up on winter driving techniques before the weather outside turns frightful.

Additional Resources

Prepare Your Vehicle for Use in Ice and Snow

Before winter conditions hit, it’s important to prepare your car for harsh winter weather. AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist can help determine a vehicle’s 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. The AAA Winter Car Care Checklist can be found here.

Drive Distraction Free

It is also important when driving in winter conditions to drive distraction-free and in the right frame of mind. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.  AAA recommends if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger’s help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.

Do Not Use Cruise Control and Avoid Tailgating

Normal following distances of three to four seconds for dry pavement should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary.  If driving on a four-lane highway, stay in the clearest lane; avoid changing lanes and driving over built-up snow. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, snow, sand) surface; not using cruise control will allow you to respond instantly when you lift your foot off the accelerator.

Know When to Brake and When to Steer

Some driving situations require abrupt action to avoid a crash or collision and in winter conditions the decision to steer or brake can have very different outcomes. When travelling over 25 MPH, AAA recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in wintery conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop.  In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control.

However, sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further head and increased following and stopping distances.  Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely. Shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections are areas where ice is likely to form first and will be the most slippery. It is important to adjust your braking habits as road conditions change.

Stay in Control Through a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

  • Continue to look and steer in the direction the car needs to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you find your vehicle stuck in the snow, AAA members needing assistance can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP.  Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile. These tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions can be found in the AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow online.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Proper vehicle maintenance can help holiday travelers avoid trouble on the road

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 14, 2012) – As 84.4 million travelers take to the roads for the year-end holiday, AAA anticipates coming to the assistance of more than 1.2 million stranded motorists between December 19, 2012, and January 2, 2013. The nation’s largest motor club will be busy with lockouts, battery replacements, jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more.

“Becoming stranded on the roadway is the last thing on anyone’s holiday wish list,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA National Vice President, Automotive, Financial Services and E-Business.  “Whether you are staying local or planning a long distance road trip, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident.”

Additional Resources

AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the roadside and send them on their way, but the remaining travelers will still need a tow this year-end holiday season.

More than 288,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected, and among those rescued AAA roadside service personnel will conveniently replace more than 80,000 failed batteries on the spot.   AAA also expects to retrieve more than 198,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles, change more than 166,000 tires and perform more than 21,000 vehicle extrications during the year-end holiday period.

Drivers can avoid the causes of some roadside breakdowns by keeping their vehicles properly maintained.  AAA advises motorists to follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving.

Here are a few things to add to your list before heading out for your holiday drive:

  • Antifreeze. Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid. Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Where appropriate, consider the use of special winter blades that offer improved performance in snow and ice conditions. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Tires. Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on the driver’s door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.
  • Battery. Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery and its cable connections. If the battery is out of warranty, it’s advisable to have it tested before cold weather hits. If replacement is necessary, have a certified technician help select the proper battery for your vehicle type and local climate. In many areas, AAA members can make an appointment to have a AAA Battery Service technicians visit their home or office to check and replace batteries.
  • Belts and hoses. Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.

Other important areas to have a certified technician check in preparation for winter include the vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster. Throughout the winter driving season, motorists should continue to have regular services, including oil and filter changes, performed at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

While preventative measures go a long way toward keeping motorists driving safely on the road, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter driving are encouraged to visit one of AAA’s more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA’s network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today’s high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at AAA.com/repair.

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides selected AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nation’s largest motor club encourages all drivers to complete three easy maintenance tasks to help avoid becoming stranded, improve safety and save money on gas

ORLANDO,Fla., (June 5, 2012) – The summer travel season officially kicked off this week with the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and AAA estimates it will come to the rescue of 7.9 million stranded motorists between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“Millions of Americans are expected to take road trips during the summer months and, unfortunately, many of them will end up stranded by the roadway,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, there are three easy maintenance tasks any driver can perform to reduce their chances of becoming stranded, improve the safety of their road trip and even save a little money.”

Additional Resources

The three maintenance tasks AAA recommends all motorists perform before hitting the road for a summer road trip include:

1. Inspect All FIVE Tires

Many motorists may be confused when told to check five tires, however AAA has found one of the most frequently overlooked items on a vehicle is the spare tire. When inspecting tires, it’s important to know if your vehicle even has a spare. If so, be sure it is properly inflated and stowed. If you cannot locate a spare tire, ensure your vehicle has an alternate solution. Options include an emergency sealant and inflator kit or run-flat tires that allow the car to be driven to a safe location.

“Roughly 1.1 million drivers will call AAA for help with a flat tire during the summer travel season, and many of those problems could be avoided by inspecting the tires and being prepared before hitting the road,” said Nielsen. “Tire inspections are simple to perform. The only tools needed are a quarter and a tire pressure gauge.”

Begin every tire inspection with a pressure check. “Eighty-five percent of drivers do not know how to properly inflate their tires, and more than half of all cars on the road have at least one under-inflated tire,” explained Nielsen.

Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold and the car has not been driven recently. Use a quality gauge to make sure all five tires are inflated to the pressures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—which is probably not the maximum pressure molded into the sidewall of the tire. The carmaker’s recommendation can be found on a sticker usually attached to the driver’s door jam, in the owner’s manual and sometimes on the gas cap door. Drivers should be aware that the recommended pressures for front and rear tires may differ, and the spare may require yet another pressure. Most space saver spares require much higher air pressures than normal vehicle tires.

Properly inflated tires also can reduce fuel costs during a trip. The Department of Energy reports that correctly inflating all four tires can improve fuel economy by up to three percent, which is equivalent to as much as to 12 cents per gallon.

After making sure all five tires are properly inflated, drivers should inspect the tread depth and overall condition of the tires. Worn tires in need of replacement are much more likely to suffer punctures and other problems.

To check tread depth, insert a quarter into a tire tread groove with Washington’s head upside down and facing outward. The tread should cover part of Washington’s head. If any area above his head is visible, it might be wise to go tire shopping before you take a long road trip. Be sure to check the tread depth at several points around the tire and across its width, and use the lowest reading.

While checking the tire tread wear, also look for signs of uneven wear or abnormal bulges or other damage on the tire treads and sidewalls. “Taking a few minutes to inspect your tires once a month can help keep you rolling down the roadway instead of being stranded by the roadside,” noted Nielsen.

2. Check and Clean Car Battery

AAA estimates it will assist nearly 1.6 million motorists with dead batteries during the summer driving season—replacing nearly 500,000 batteries at the roadside. Summer heat breaks down car batteries internally and accelerates the rate of corrosion on the vehicle’s battery terminals. Both conditions can lead to insufficient electrical power being available, and leave a motorist stranded without warning.

Check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. It is not enough to simply remove external corrosion; proper cleaning requires disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals.

Depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns, most car batteries have a three to five year service life. If a battery is nearing the end of its lifecycle, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by the AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if replacing the battery before your road trip might be a good idea.

3. Replace Wiper Blades and Refill Washer Fluid

Rain, insects, grime and other debris on a windshield will compromise the driver’s vision, and safety, if the wipers cannot remove them. Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir monthly or more often if the washers are used frequently. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. Be sure to test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.

While topping off the washer fluid, also check the wiper blades. If blades are worn, cracked or rigid with age, they will not adequately remove rain, grime and other debris that can obscure driver vision. If the wiper blades are sufficiently deteriorated, the metal wiper blade frame could contact and permanently damage the windshield.

Check the wiper blades at every oil change or whenever they fail to wipe the glass clean in a single swipe. 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 replacement is needed.

“While any driver can perform these three simple maintenance tasks before a summer road trip, they are not the only services your car needs to stay in top notch operating condition. It is also important to have your car serviced regularly according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual,” said Nielsen.

This summer, AAA will remedy over half of motorists’ car problems at the roadside and get them back on the go. However, an estimated 3.4 million drivers will suffer more significant troubles that will require towing to a place of repair. Regular vehicle maintenance can help a motorist avoid becoming one of the unlucky drivers who end up spending part of their summer vacation hooked to a tow truck.

To help consumers identify quality auto repair shops that can assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles, AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service. AAA-approved repair facilities meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shop online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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