FLORHAM PARK—AAA and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) joined together Wednesday to remind motorists that cars need seasonal checkups to maintain safety and maximize operational efficiency. Regular maintenance and seasonal checkups can also help prevent unexpected repair costs in the future.
“No one wants to be stranded in the cold by a breakdown,” said Frederick L. Gruel, president & CEO, AAA New Jersey Automobile Club. “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.
“With almost six million registered vehicles traveling the roadways of our state, it is important for owners to understand their responsibilities when it come to car care,” said Raymond Martinez, Chief Administrator, NJMVC. “Routine maintenance, whether provided by a local garage, dealership or done by the owner, not only ensures a safer vehicle, but also goes a long way in preventing costly repairs that can quickly drain a wallet.”
AAA recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Many items can be inspected by a vehicle owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician.
Winter Car Care Checklist
Battery & 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 Mobile Battery Service technicians will go to a AAA members’ desired location to test their battery and, if needed, replace it on site.
Battery Cables & Terminals: Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.
Belts & Hoses: Have the underside of accessory drive belts inspected for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that don’t show obvious signs of wear. These belts should be replaced at 60,000-mile intervals. Have cooling system hoses inspected for leaks, cracks or lose clamps. If any hoses are brittle or excessively spongy, they should be replaced.
Tires: Consider installing snow tires on all four wheels to help provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, provided they have adequate tread depth. 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. Check tire pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures—typically by 1 pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10?F dip. Follow the tire specifications found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker located on the driver’s side doorjamb. Don’t forget to check the spare.
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. If light is blocked by most of the filter, it needs to be replaced.
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 an inexpensive tester available at NAPA Auto Parts stores. Be sure to use the coolant specified for your vehicle.
Lights: Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights, and replace any burnt out bulbs.
Wiper Blades & Washer Fluid: 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/snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components 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.
AAA also recommends keeping a winter weather emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: bag of abrasive material to provide traction should you get stuck; snow shovel; flashlight with extra batteries; window washer solvent; ice scraper with brush; cloth or roll of paper towels; jumper cables; change of clothes; gloves, hat, scarf; blankets; warning devices; drinking water and non-perishable snacks; first-aid kit; and a cell phone and car charger.
To help motorists keep their vehicles in tip-top shape, the AAA New Jersey Automobile Club is offering free vehicle safety checks (which include checks of the tires, fluid levels, windshield wipers, batteries, lights, and belts and hoses) at its three branch locations:
AAA Car Care Center, Springfield
135 Route 22 East, 1-973-467-2651
Wednesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 19 from Noon to 3 p.m.
AAA Florham Park
1 Hanover Road, 1-973-377-7200
Wednesday, October 12 from Noon to 3 p.m.
AAA West Orange
Essex Green Shopping Center, 495 Prospect Avenue, 1-973-325-0024
Wednesday, October 26 from Noon to 3 p.m.
All AAA Approved Auto Repair and Approved Auto Body facilities in Essex, Morris and Union Counties are participating in Car Care Month and offering free vehicle inspections. To locate a facility and make an appointment, visit AAA.com/Repair.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to its more than 400,000 members in Essex, Morris and Union Counties. The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club also owns and operates New Jersey’s only AAA Car Care Center, located in Springfield.
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