CINCINNATI, OH – Dec. 7, 2017 – Sub-freezing temperatures will make a return to the tristate area this week and vehicles that have not been properly maintained and prepared for winter conditions could leave drivers stuck, literally, out in the cold, warns AAA.
“No one wants to be stranded in the cold by a vehicle breakdown,” said Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “Properly preparing your vehicle for winter driving is essential for the safety of all passengers and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle letting you down.
Based on calls to AAA Emergency Roadside Assistance, the most common problems that arise this time of year are with dead batteries or improperly inflated tires, both of which can be aggravated by a sudden cold snap.”
AAA recommends that motorists use a simple checklist to determine their 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.
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.
- Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion, and the connections are tight.
- Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, check the spare.
- Tire Type and Tread – Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, provided they have adequate tread depth.
- Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level with a tester available at most auto parts stores.
- Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. Consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that may prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.
- Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution which contains antifreeze components to prevent freezing.
- Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals or as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
- Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or feel spongy.
- Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs so you can see and be seen in dark or winter weather conditions.
- Check your AAA Membership Status – Before you need service is the best time to check that you have service. Make sure your membership is up to date and the selected service level matches your lifestyle needs. AAA has varying levels of membership to fit every budget and lifestyle.
Motorists can identify reliable repair facilities with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. Nearby shops can be located at AAA.com/repair.
Winter Emergency Road Kit
Now is also a great time to begin assembling an emergency kit equipped for winter weather to carry in your vehicle. This kit is especially important if you’ll be driving any distance and winter weather is forecast. The kit should include:
- Fully- charged mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, along with a 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
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Extra warm clothing (coat, gloves, hats, scarves)
- Snow boots
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Window washer solvent – winter formulation with antifreeze components
- Ice scraper with brush
- Cloth or roll of paper towels
- Jumper cables
- Warning devices (flares or reflective triangles)
- Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
With a little preparation, motorists can reduce their anxiety level and perhaps save themselves time and money when dealing with the oncoming winter months.