This list of vehicle readiness services will help make sure your vehicle is fully prepared for any extreme conditions we get this winter.
Recommended Winter Vehicle Readiness Services
- 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. If you’re an AAA member, you can request a visit from an AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test your battery and replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
- Battery Cables and Terminals – Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.
- Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.
- Engine Hoses – Even in cold weather your engine can overheat. Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.
- Tire Type and Tread – To ensure good traction all winter long, it’s best to install winter tires on all four wheels. 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. Visit our Winter Traction page for a more comprehensive rundown of tire and traction FAQs.
- Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.
- 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. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
- 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 annually with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.
- Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs and consider replacing excessively scratched or cloudy headlights to improve visibility.
- Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In higher elevations that experience more consistent snowfall, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup between the blade and glass.
- Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing. Do not add antifreeze to standard washer fluid. The oily consistency will smear your windshield and restrict visibility. Antifreeze also contains chemical compounds that can damage paint and some metal surfaces.
- 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.
- Emergency Road Kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. We’ve pulled together a handy list of items you should keep on hand, just in case.
If your vehicle needs a readiness checkup, visit one of our AAA Approved Auto Repair partners today.