Car Care Checklist

October is the perfect time to prep your vehicle before the cold weather of winter sets in. We’ve gathered a list of simple and relatively inexpensive car care tips to improve your vehicle’s dependability and safety, plus a few AAA Discount partners for those do-it-yourself home mechanics.

Check Fluid Levels

Periodic fluid levels checks are recommended. Pay special attention to the engine oil, coolant, washer solvent, power steering, transmission, and brake fluid level. When checking coolant (antifreeze) level, make sure the engine is completely cold. In addition, consult your owner’s manual for the type of fluid to use when adding to any system.

Need a little help? Here are a few AAA Discounts:

Quench and Drench

Save $7 off complete car care oil change and $2 off any exterior car wash with towel dry. Available in Medford, Oregon.

Jiffy Lube

Save 10% off all services which include Signature Service oil change, radiator flush, belt replacement, and fuel filters. Available in Idaho only.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change

Save 15% off regular price oil change and other preventive maintenance services at Valvoline Instant Oil Change℠. Valid at participating locations.

Care for your Battery

Extreme temperatures are hard on batteries, accelerating the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, and insufficient electrical power is the most common reason motorists are stranded. Avoid being stuck by having your battery checked by AAA! We will send a AAA battery technician to come to your vehicle and test your battery, starter, and alternator. We’ll even deliver a new battery, install it and take away your old one.

Schedule your battery service online or by calling 800-222-4357.

Check the brake system

This is an operation that is better left for a professional. Brake systems on today’s vehicles are complex and often require special equipment to diagnose. However, if they are performing well and there are no warning lights on the dash, you can often have the pads and rotors inspected for a minimal amount by a professional.

Affordable Tire & Brake Company

Save 10% off labor up to $50 on automotive repairs. Available in Portland, Oregon.

Check the heating and air conditioning systems

An inefficient or broken heating and air conditioning system can spell disaster. Defrosting the windshield and windows so you can see where you are going in a cold, damp, and dark winter night is as important as your brakes when addressing safety.

Note: Most newer vehicles have a cabin air filter to remove dust and pollen — a dirty filter restricts air flow and lessens the system’s ability to defog your windows. If the cabin air filter has not been checked recently have it inspected and replaced if necessary.

AAA Tip: The quickest way to defrost the inside of the windshield and windows is to turn on the heater and the air conditioning at the same time and to put the air intake into recirculation mode. Check your vehicle’s manual for specific model operation.

Change your wipers and check your lights

Worn, cracked, or dirty wiper blades can make driving difficult and nerve-wracking. Extremely worn or damaged wiper blades can actually damage your windshield beyond repair. When you couple that with poor exterior lighting, it makes driving in snow and rain hazardous – especially at night. Wiper blades are often inexpensive and come with installation instructions. Light bulbs are also something that someone with basic mechanical skills can often replace by consulting the vehicle’s owner manual.

Need to repair your windshield or restock on auto supplies? Try our AAA Discount partners:

The Ugly Chip

Save 10% off mobile windshield repair. Available in Bend, Oregon.

NAPA Auto Parts

Save 10% every day at NAPA Auto Parts (certain product exclusions apply) with your AAA membership.

Check Tires

It’s important that you don’t drive your vehicle if the tires are not roadworthy at any time — especially for winter driving. Make sure you check them for tread depth, uneven wear, bulges, bald spots, and that they have the correct air pressure including the spare. Consult a tire professional if you have any questions about the condition of your tires.

Some breakdowns are unavoidable and that’s why AAA also recommends that in addition to readying your vehicle for winter driving, you also inspect the vehicle’s tool kit and carry a set of jumper cables, a tow rope, a blanket, and a basic first aid kit, along with your AAA membership card or mobile app.


The best time to find an auto technician or facility is before you need one. AAA requires each of its 7,000 AAR facilities nationwide to employ professional automotive technicians who have earned certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or another equivalent standard.

Find a local AAR shop now