Nov. 22, 2019 – Nearly 50 million travelers are making plans to hit the highways and byways this Thanksgiving holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home. This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005.
Unfortunately for some motorists, the busy travel week will include inconvenient and potentially dangerous roadside vehicle breakdowns, adding delays to plans to get to Thanksgiving dinner. AAA is expecting to rescue 368,000 motorists nationwide during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period. Over the Thanksgiving holiday travel period*, AAA Oklahoma’s Roadside Rescue team is projecting it will come to the aid of 2,466 stranded motorists in the Sooner State.
Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons drivers will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Checking battery charge, checking tire tread and pressure, and ensuring other key vehicle systems are road trip-ready can help avoid breakdowns and lost holiday time with friends and family.
AAA offers these tips to drivers who experience trouble along the way:
- Know your location: At the first sign of trouble, look around to determine the location. Look for mile markers or exit signs on highways, and street signs on surface streets.
- Go right: move vehicle off the roadway and as far to the right as possible.
- Alert other drivers: turn on flashing vehicle hazard lights.
- Stay put: remain in the vehicle and call for help immediately. Make sure you have your AAA card or membership number as well as emergency assistance phone number readily available. When help arrives, do not exit the vehicle, wait for the first responder to approach the vehicle with instructions.
Not all breakdowns can be prevented, but routine vehicle maintenance is the best way to avoid being stranded along the side of the road. “AAA recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs,” said AAA Oklahoma spokesperson Leslie Gamble. “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.”
Fall/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 Mobile Battery Service technicians can be called to test a member’s 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. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, tires can lose a pound of pressure. Don’t forget the spare tire.
- Engine: Have any engine 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.
Vehicle owners should read the maintenance requirements set by the car’s manufacturer in the owner’s manual. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services – including brake fluid. Each automaker has different requirements, making the owner’s manual the most accurate resource. In-vehicle maintenance reminders provide good guidance because they account for real-time problems and how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis – such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.
Those planning to travel should check weather and road conditions before leaving home. Drivers should also keep an emergency
kit in the vehicle with items including:
- 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
- Light colored, warm clothing (coat, 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)
Many of the winter emergency items listed above – plus pre-assembled multi-item kits including the 64-piece Traveler Road Kit and 66-piece Severe Weather Road Kit – are available, at a discount to AAA members, in the online store at AAA.com.