BOISE – April is Car Care Month, and AAA is reminding drivers to catch up on maintenance and repairs before their next road trip.

“We’re always ready to help, but it’s better to discover a mechanical issue in a service bay than on the side of the road,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “During your pre-trip inspection, make a smart B-E-T by checking your battery, engine, and tires.”

Battery Care

As vehicle technology gets more sophisticated, your battery is under increasing demand.  And in states with freezing and scorching temperatures like Idaho, battery life can drop even faster.

  • If your battery is three years old or older, have it tested every six months.
  • Gently clean corrosion from battery terminals by dipping a brush or rag in a solution of baking soda and warm water.  Do not pour the solution directly onto the battery.  Remember to wear eye protection and gloves.
  • Ensure that the battery is securely mounted – vibration and shaking can affect longevity.

AAA provides mobile battery testing and replacement for AAA members in many service areas.  AAA’s premium batteries can also be purchased at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops, and at NAPA Auto Parts stores.

“We’re doing our part to keep plastics, lead, and sulfuric acid out of landfills with our battery recycling program,” Conde said.  “In the past 25 years, AAA has recycled 30 million batteries – laid end-to-end, that’s enough to stretch from Seattle to Paris.”

In addition to AAA recycling batteries after providing mobile service, many auto parts stores and repair shops, including AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, will accept batteries for proper disposal.  Please check with the shop before bringing a weak or dead battery to drop off.

Engine Care

  • Make sure hoses and belts are properly installed and free from cracking.
  • Check fluid levels or have them checked by a repair shop.  In some cases, the shop you regularly use for oil changes may have a fluid top-off policy.
  • Safely dispose of old engine fluids.

“Your engine is the workhorse that carries the car, the passengers, and your luggage to your destination, and it deserves a little love,” Conde said.  “Don’t ignore that drip on the driveway – it could lead to a bigger problem later.”


AAA recommends replacing tires when they are at 3/32 of an inch or lower.  As a simple check, use the quarter test – turn a quarter upside down in the main tire tread.  If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, it’s time to think about replacing the tire.

  • Look for uneven wear, which could be an indication of overinflated or underinflated tires, or a possible alignment issue.
  • Take your vehicle in for inspection if the car “pulls” to one side or the other, or if there are new or unusual vibrations when you’re driving.
  • If you hear a screeching or squealing sound when braking, your brakes may need service.

Additional odds and ends

  • Check vehicle filters and replace as needed.
  • Consider the benefits of fuel injection cleaner to maintain system components.
  • Consider using TOP TIER gasoline, which contains additives and detergents that improve system performance.
  • Use gasoline with an octane rating that matches manufacturer recommendations.  Previous AAA research shows that you are not usually giving your car a “treat” by using higher octane fuels than specified.

For a list of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, visit  To estimate the cost of repair, use AAA’s calculating tool:

“We encourage vehicle owners to give a repair shop an ‘audition,’” Conde said.  “Have them start with something small, like a tire rotation or an oil change, to see how things go.  Then you can work together with confidence to tackle bigger maintenance or repairs.”