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Prepare your car for winter: AAA provides tips for seasonal car care

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Mon, Nov 11th 2019 10:20 am

By AAA of Western and Central New York

Are you ready to drive in the snow? Is your car?

AAA Western and Central New York has put together some of the best winter car care tips to make sure drivers have safe travels on the roads as our first major snow event takes place.

AAA Winter Car Care Checklist

Battery and Charging System – Have the battery and charging system tested by a qualified technician. 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. AAA’s “Battery Bonanza” runs Nov. 10-24 to remind members to get their batteries checked and, after the test, they are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win a $1,000 gift card (no purchase necessary). More details here.

Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

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.

Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy-feeling.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best traction. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, provided they have adequate tread depth. Start shopping for new tires when the tread depth reaches 4/32 of an inch, and replace any tire whose tread is worn to 2/32 of an inch or less. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average 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 tire information sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.

Air Filter – Check the engine 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 light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

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. Be sure to use the type of coolant required by your vehicle. Test the antifreeze protection level annually using an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

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

Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In snowy areas, consider installing one-piece “beam type” wiper blades or special winter blades with a rubber cover over the frame. Both will reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that is formulated to prevent it from freezing.

Brakes – If there is any indication of a brake problem, have the system 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 – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:

  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers, including emergency services and family members
  • Car charger for the mobile phone
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Nonperishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra-warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Winter window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloths or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 880,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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