Posts Tagged ‘Winter Driving’

ORLANDO, Fla., September 13, 2010

In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, the nation’s largest motor club reminds drivers seasonal checkups are essential for worry-free driving as weather changes

With the change of seasons most people examine their wardrobes. Last season’s coat is inspected for wear, and boots, sweaters and wool slacks come out of the closet for scrutiny. AAA reminds motorists that cars also need seasonal checkups.

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

One way to identify a reliable, high-quality repair facility with certified technicians is to look for one that is AAA Approved. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, service equipment, warranties and cleanliness. There are nearly 8000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in the U.S., and nearby shops can be quickly located at AAA.com/repair.

Winter Car Care Checklist

Battery and Charging System – Have the 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. 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 facilities can also test and replace weak batteries.

Battery Cables and Terminals – Check the condition of the battery cables and terminals. Make sure all connections are secure and remove any corrosion from the terminals and posts.

Drive Belts – Inspect belts for cracks or fraying. Don’t just look at the smooth top surface of the belt, but turn it over and check the grooved underside where most belt wear occurs.

Engine Hoses –Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses to check for any that may be brittle or excessively spongy feeling and in need of replacement.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. Uneven wear on the tires can indicate alignment, suspension or wheel balance problems that should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.

Tire Pressure – Check tire pressure more frequently during winter months. 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.

Air Filter – Check the engine’s air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.

Wiper Blades – Blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. 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.

Brakes – Have brakes inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.

Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Emergency Road Kit – Update the car’s emergency kit for winter weather. The kit should include:

  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Gloves, hats and blankets
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Drinking water
  • Non-perishable snacks (energy or granola bars)
  • Extra clothes
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Mobile phone and car charger with important numbers programmed in it, including a roadside assistance provider

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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.

As part of AAA Car Care Month, the motor club reminds motorists to attend to frequently overlooked maintenance items when preparing their vehicles for winter weather

(Orlando, Fla. – 10/20/2009) When there is a chill in the air, it’s time for motorists to prepare their vehicles for the upcoming cold-weather season, AAA says. There are key components that frequently come to mind when thinking of winter car care such as antifreeze and the vehicle’s battery. But there are other components that are susceptible to wear or failure when the temperature drops that are too frequently overlooked.

“Properly preparing your vehicle for upcoming winter weather is essential for safe driving and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle leaving you stranded in the cold,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Services.

As motorists prepare their vehicles for winter weather, AAA offers the following list of frequently forgotten maintenance items that should be addressed:

Antifreeze Protection

Antifreeze protection is the first item that comes to mind when most people think of winter vehicle maintenance. A 50/50 solution of engine coolant and water will provide the necessary antifreeze capability.

Don’t Forget—Check hoses: The coolant solution will only work if it stays in the system, which means the hoses and clamps that carry the mixture have to be in good working order. Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, feel the hoses to check for any that are brittle or excessively soft and spongy feeling. If you find any problems, have them addressed immediately.

Don’t Forget—Flush cooling system: While engine coolant never loses its antifreeze capability, the additives that lubricate the water pump and protect internal engine components from rust and corrosion become depleted over time. Motorists should have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the type of coolant used, this is typically necessary every two to five years.

Electrical System

Most drivers know the efficiency of a vehicle battery decreases in colder temperatures. If the battery is already weak, it will likely become ineffective when the mercury drops, leaving them stranded. Heading into cold weather, have the vehicle battery’s condition tested—especially if the battery is older than three years. AAA Mobile Battery Service will test members’ auto batteries at no charge. If the battery has removable caps, make sure the cells are filled to the proper level with distilled water. Also, check that all cable connections are tight and make sure there is no corrosion on the terminals or clamps.

Don’t Forget—Alternator belt: While the battery provides a reserve source of electrical energy, the alternator provides electrical power once the engine is running and charges the battery. Make sure the alternator belt is properly adjusted. A loose belt is a common cause of a dead battery. While older vehicles require manual belt tightening, late models typically have automatic tensioners—but those can wear out or fail. When checking the belt tension, also inspect it for signs of wear such as cracks or missing segments on ribbed belts on the underside that signal the need for replacement.

Windshield

Anyone who has made the mistake of using their windshield cleaner on a cold morning and found it was filled with water—that is frozen in the reservoir or freezes when contacting the windshield—knows the importance of checking the windshield fluid reservoir before the first freeze of the year and using a windshield cleaning solution with antifreeze components. When filling the washer reservoir, also check the operation of the pump and aim of the sprayers.

Don’t Forget—Winter wiper blades: Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. If there are streaks or missed spots, it’s time to replace them. During the snow season, consider installing winter wiper blades. These special units wrap the blade in a rubber boot that prevents ice and snow buildup that can inhibit good contact between the rubber blade and glass.

Tires

Traction is key to safe winter driving and having the right type of tires on a vehicle is essential. In areas with heavy winter weather, using snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced.

Don’t Forget—Tire pressure: While motorists should check the pressure in their tires at least once a month, they should increase the frequency during winter months. As the temperature starts to drop, 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, do not forget to check the spare.

Brakes

Any brake system problems that were noticeable in the summer will become worse in the winter when traction is reduced. Brakes that tend to grab or pull on a dry road are likely to lock on ice or snow-covered pavement, resulting in a loss of stopping power and/or steering control. Make sure brakes are in properly working order before winter weather arrives.

Don’t Forget—Brake fluid flush: Brake fluid absorbs water that collects at low points in the hydraulic system and causes rust, fluid leaks and, if not prevented, brake failure. On vehicles with antilock brakes, moisture in the brake fluid also can damage expensive electro-hydraulic control units. For this reason, most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed and new fluid installed every two to three years. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended service interval.

While some do-it-yourselfers might check these items themselves, others can find guaranteed professional maintenance and repair service at a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. AAA inspects and certifies more than 8,000 auto repair shops across North America as a free public service to all motorists. Shops can be identified by the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign or by searching online at AAA.com/Repair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 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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