car care 101 tips from AAA

AAA urges motorists to get a complimentary 40-point vehicle inspection at one of its Approved Auto Repair facilities and to follow some simple maintenance tips. Anyone who drives should learn how to handle common maintenance issues. The appropriate dose of proper upkeep can extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent costly repairs.

Technicians at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops examine tread wear and check tire pressure for all tires and the spare. In addition, the inspection includes basic items including hoses, belts, fluids, battery, warning systems, lights and other under-the-hood items. While the evaluation doesn’t include all operating systems, or those—like brakes—which require placing the car on a hoist, we can spot the most common problems that lead to a breakdown.

AAA also encourages car owners to check out what it calls the “4 Things Motorists Should Know About Car Care,” a simple list of tips covering basic maintenance. Here are the tips, including some online car care 101 primers from AAA’s automotive experts:


Tip 1: Tires

Eight in ten motorists (83%) do not know how to properly inflate tires. Your tire pressure for all tires and the spare should be checked monthly, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Proper pressure can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. The pressure levels on some cars vary between the front and rear tires.

Check the tread depth on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Look for uneven tire wear, an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems.



Tip 2: Battery Care

Extreme temperatures are hard on batteries, accelerating the rate of corrosion on battery terminals. Insufficient electrical power is the most common reason motorists stranded.

Check the battery cables at every oil change and securely attach them to the terminals. Additionally, clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Most batteries have a three- to-five-year service life, depending on climate and usage patterns.



Tip 3: Wipers

Inspect wiper blades monthly to check them for cracks, wear, or brittleness. Damaged wiper blades don’t adequately remove debris—compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months, depending on exposure to the elements.

Check the fluid reservoir monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim.



Tip 4: Repair Shops

The best time to find an auto technician or facility is before you need one. AAA requires each of its 8,000 AAR facilities nationwide to employ professional automotive technicians who have earned certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or another equivalent standard.

Full service facilities must also have the tools and equipment to provide a broad range of repairs. Each shop must have a positive reputation among existing customers, and provide written estimates and warranties on parts and labor.


Find a local AAR shop now