- About Us
Simple steps drivers can take to prevent breakdowns | AAA Washington
In Washington and northern Idaho, AAA is expecting to assist members with more than 520,000 calls for emergency roadside assistance this year alone. This October, Car Care Month, AAA is encouraging all motorists to perform a checkup to maintain the safety, reliability and efficiency of their vehicle before winter weather arrives.
Below are four simple car care practices AAA recommends every motorist perform on a regular basis. If you’re not comfortable under the hood of your vehicle, take your vehicle to an ASE certified technician to perform a maintenance inspection on your vehicle. AAA has a list of Approved Auto Repair facilities that have been inspected and approved by our automotive experts. And, during the month of October, AAA’s Approved Auto Repair facilities in Washington and northern Idaho will perform a free 35-point maintenance inspection by appointment for members. For a list of AAA Approved Auto Repair shops go to AAA.com/repair.
Check the Air and Wear of Your Tires
Eighty-three percent of Americans do not know how to properly inflate their tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The pressure of all tires—including the spare— should be checked monthly when the tires are cold. Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Note that the pressure levels on some cars are different for 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 George Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. Also, look for uneven tire wear when checking the tread. This can be an indication of suspension, wheel balance or alignment problems that need to be addressed.
[Every driver at some point deals with a flat tire. Click here for a step-by-step video that shows how to prepare for and repair or replace a flat tire.]
Ensure Your Car Battery is Properly Charged
Extreme temperatures break down car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals, leading to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded without warning.
At every oil change, check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion. Disconnecting the cables to clean the hidden areas where they contact the battery terminals is the best way to remove external corrosion. Most car batteries have a three- to five-year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns. If your battery is getting old, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop or by using AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it needs to be replaced.
Keep Those Wipers Working
Inspect the wiper blades monthly. Check to see if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age. Damaged wiper blades won’t adequately remove debris, compromising the driver’s vision and safety. The life of the blades is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain, and ozone. With our local wet weather, wiper blades typically wear out closer to the six-month time frame. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and a replacement is needed.
The windshield washer fluid reservoir should be checked monthly. Top it off with a solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects or other debris. In winter, use a solution that will not freeze at low temperatures. Also, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim before leaving on a trip.
Work with a Local Repair Shop You Trust
Every car requires routine maintenance and repair. The best time to find a mechanic or auto repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit AAA.com/repair to find nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:
- Does the facility have up to date equipment?
- Were you offered a written estimate?
- Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?
- Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?
When having your car serviced, follow the factory recommended maintenance schedule to avoid under- or over-maintaining your vehicle. Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. The maintenance schedule for these services and more can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual.
AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904. The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 1,060,000 members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.