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AAA Recommends Car Care Checklist to Prepare for Upcoming Winter Driving

AAA Recommends Car Care Checklist to Prepare for Upcoming Winter Driving

In recognition of October as AAA Car Care Month, the nation’s largest motor club reminds drivers seasonal checkups are essential for worry-free driving as weather changes

winter drivingWith the change of seasons most people examine their wardrobes. Last season’s coat is inspected for wear, and boots, sweaters and wool slacks come out of the closet for scrutiny. AAA reminds motorists that cars also need seasonal checkups.

AAA recommends that motorists use a simple checklist to determine their car’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Most of the items on the checklist can be inspected by car owners in less than an hour, but several others should be performed by a certified technician.

One way to identify a reliable, high-quality repair facility with certified technicians is to look for one that is AAA Approved. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, service equipment, warranties and cleanliness. There are nearly 8000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in the U.S., and nearby shops can be quickly located at AAA.com/repair.

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. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities can also test and replace weak batteries.

Battery Cables and Terminals – Check the condition of the battery cables and terminals. Make sure all connections are secure and remove any corrosion from the terminals and posts.

Drive Belts – Inspect belts for cracks or fraying. Don’t just look at the smooth top surface of the belt, but turn it over and check the grooved underside where most belt wear occurs.

Engine Hoses –Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses to check for any that may be brittle or excessively spongy feeling and in need of replacement.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. Uneven wear on the tires can indicate alignment, suspension or wheel balance problems that should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.

Tire Pressure – Check tire pressure more frequently during winter months. As the temperature drops, so will the pressures in the tires—typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. And, don’t forget to check the spare.

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

Coolant Levels – Check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

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

Wiper Blades – Blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. In areas with snowy conditions, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade in a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the rubber blade and the glass.

Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components for cold weather use.

Brakes – Have brakes 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 – Update the car’s emergency kit for winter weather. The kit should include:

  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Gloves, hats and blankets
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Drinking water
  • Non-perishable snacks (energy or granola bars)
  • Extra clothes
  • First-aid kit
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Mobile phone and car charger with important numbers programmed in it, including a roadside assistance provider

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Keeping your engine clean…

Car care tips…
Keeping your engine clean…

Tip #1
Use Heavy Duty Gel to cling to vertical surfaces. When degreasing areas under your car like differential covers or oil pans before you change out any of the functional fluids in your car.

Tip #3
Use any one of our Brake Parts Cleaners. Dissolve and flush away built up brake dust, caliper fluid, grease and oil from the parts you’re replacing to ensure a proper fit for your new brake parts.

Tip #2
Use Squeal Medic on your drums and rotors. Before you finish up your brake job to help stop any unwanted squeaks or squeals from starting while you brake in your new pads.

Tip #4
Use Bug-n-Tar remover in the summer months. When most insects get stuck to your grill, bumper and hood area to keep your painted surfaces and metals free from discoloration and corrosion problems caused by insects.

Fall car care checklist

By Tom Morr, automedia.com

Just as you should check your smoke detectors’ batteries every time autumn comes around, preventive car maintenance procedures can keep automotive disaster from striking. Depending on where you live, the weather can change overnight – for instance, Colorado often gets snow as early as Labor Day. So applying the Boy Scout motto to colder-weather motoring can make the difference between getting there and back – or not.

Car traveling down a road in fall with changing leaves

Fall car care checklist

Fall car maintenance

Year-round routine car maintenance is the best way to make your vehicle perform stronger and last longer. The regimen should include car tune-ups and inspection/replacement of worn belts and hoses. As the weather cools, consider changing to synthetic lubricants, which work across a wider temperature range than conventional oils. These high-tech oils cost more, so an alternative is to use lighter-weight oils in colder weather.

Cooling system

Consult your owner’s manual for proper coolant mix, which is often about a 60/40 antifreeze-to-water ratio. Another trick is to install a higher-temperature thermostat. This will improve heater performance and help the engine warm up faster. However, some computer-controlled vehicles might not be compatible with non-factory temperature thermostats.

Heater

Since the car heater and defroster work off the cooling system, check heater hoses while inspecting the radiator hoses. Coolant on the floorboard is one common sign of a leaky heater core. Also, vacuum/blow all leaves and debris out of the ducts.

Battery

If your battery has removable caps, make sure that all cells are filled with distilled water. Keep all battery terminals and cable ends clean. When jump-starting, never connect the jumper cables’ ground clamp to the dead battery’s negative post. Instead, use an engine-mounted bracket as the grounding location. In colder weather, this can keep a frozen battery from exploding.

Fuel system

Keep the gas tank as full as possible. Aside from the obvious, this limits condensation in the gas tank to minimize water – which can freeze – in the fuel line. “Antigel” additives are available, particularly for diesel-powered vehicles. On non-fuel-injected cars, keep the choke/carburetor butterfly lubricated so it won’t stick.

Windshield

Check the wiper blades for deterioration and consider upgrading to winter/snow blades. Park the blades before turning off the vehicle or lift them off the glass so they won’t freeze overnight. Fill the washer fluid reservoir with winter fluid, and never put hot water on a cold windshield.

Body

Waxing, particularly with a carnauba-based product, will help the paint withstand road salt and other foul-weather grime. Lubricate door hinges with silicone spray so they won’t squeak when the weather changes. Spraying the locks and weatherstripping will help keep doors and trunks from freezing shut.

Tires

Air condenses in cooler weather, and we’re all well-educated now on the hazards of underinflated tires. Keep tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation on the sticker found in the glove box or on the doorjamb. Check the condition/inflation of the spare. Store snow tires horizontally during the off-season to prevent flat-spotting. Practice fitting snow chains before the start of winter.

Auto care products

Lastly, the automotive aftermarket unveils an array of cold-weather solutions every autumn. These products are designed to heat almost every aspect of your vehicle: from its coolant to its oil, from its battery to it locks and even its occupants. Always plan ahead to minimize the stress of cold-weather driving.