Oct. 22, 2020 – Forecasts of overnight temperatures near freezing next week are prompting AAA Oklahoma to urge motorists to get a seasonal check-up of key vehicle systems.
“October is Car Care Month for a reason,” Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma spokesperson, said. “Freezing temperatures arriving soon make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system.”
Worry-free driving once cold weather and winter driving conditions approach may depend upon whether drivers follow simple steps to make sure it’s ready. Some 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 Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers in Edmond, Norman, near Quail Springs Mall and at N.W. 61st & May in Oklahoma City offer free 12-point vehicle inspections by appointment. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops throughout the state 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.
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.
Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness.