CINCINNATI, OH (November 8, 2018)—With weather predictions indicating winter-like temperatures, rain and even snow in the Cincinnati tristate area over the next few days, now is an ideal time for a seasonal checkup of key vehicle systems to ensure worry-free driving once cold weather and winter driving conditions arrive.
“AAA recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “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.”
To help drivers prepare for winter, AAA is offering free bumper-to-bumper vehicle maintenance inspections at all local AAA/Bob Sumerel Tire and Auto Centers and AAA membership is not required.
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.
Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists check the following vehicle systems:
- 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. 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 shops can 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. Drivers can check the air pressure in their tires and add air for free at AAA/Bob Sumerel Car Care Centers.
- 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.
Now is also a great time to assemble an emergency kit equipped for winter weather to store in a vehicle. This kit is especially important for long distance driving where motorists may encounter winter weather.
The emergency kit should include:
- Fully charged 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 (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 73-piece Explorer Road Kit and 66-piece Winter Safety Road Kit – are available, at a discount to AAA members, in the online store at AAA.com.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 59 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.