AAA: Top 5 things to check before hopping on the road for the holidays

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DEARBORN, Mich. (WLNS) — Approximately 48.3 million Americans will be on the road next week for the holidays, and AAA estimates that 400,00 of them will need roadside assistance.

The three most common car issues? Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.

Before heading out to see family for Thanksgiving, here are the Top 5 Items on AAA’s Auto Checklist:

Tires

AAA says to check your tires at least once a month, as well as before taking a long trip. 

Inspect all four tires, as some new vehicles don’t come with a spare tire. It’s good know whether you have one or not, and if it’s inflated.

Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. 

Drivers should pay special attention to both tire inflation pressure and tire tread depth.

Also remember to check tire pressure when the car has been idle and tires are cool. Inflate tires as needed to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which you can find listed in the owner’s manual as well as on the sticker on the driver side door. Do not use the number on the tire sidewall.

To check tire tread depth, insert a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, it is time for new tires. AAA says to be sure to check in multiple spots across your tire to diagnose any uneven wear patterns.

Battery

Temperature changes can take a toll on car battery, but a professional can help determine remaining battery capacity.

The following are symptoms of a dying battery:

  • Car hesitates or slowly cranks when you’re trying to start it
  • A grinding, clicking or buzzing sound when you turn the ignition
  • Dim headlights, especially when your car is idling
  • The battery warning light is illuminated
  • Corrosion, cracks or bulges on your battery

Brakes

Listen to and feel your breaks, because if you hear a grinding sound or feel vibrating when pressing the breaks, you may want to take your car to the shop for a brake inspection. A professional can help check the brake system for fluid leaks, as well as the pads, rotors, shoes, and drums.

Fluids

Check that engine oil, coolant, brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.

Wiper Blades

Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. Replace the blades if wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with fluid formulated to remove insects and other debris, and test to make sure the nozzles spray adequately.

AAA says here is what to do if your car breaks down:

  • Pull off the road to a safe place
  • Turn on emergency flashers to notify other drivers
  • Call AAA for roadside assistance
  • Stay with your vehicle, unless it is unsafe to do so

Drivers who find themselves stranded can reach AAA by calling or texting “HELP” to 1-800-AAA-HELP, submitting a request via the web, or by using the AAA mobile app (available on Google Play or in the App Store).

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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