After reporting more than 18 million roadside assistance calls from January through August 2012 in the U.S. and Canada and with winter rapidly approaching, AAA issued a list of periodic checkups every driver should consider to maximize efficiency and maintain safety.
"Whether you're expecting cooler temperatures, snow, rain or simply a little less sunshine, regular maintenance and seasonal checkups can help prevent unexpected repair costs in the future," said John Nielsen, director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. "Properly preparing your vehicle for the next season of driving is essential for the safety of all passengers and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle letting you down."
Many of the items on the AAA checklist can be completed by a car owner, but some require inspection from a certified technician. Motorists are encouraged to find a reputable service center in their local area and to avoid the high costs associated with dealership service centers.
Drivers should check their battery cables and terminals often and make sure no corrosion is building up and the connections are tight. In addition, they should also inspect drive belts to ensure that there are no obvious signs of wear. The same goes for windshield wiper blades. Wipers that leave streaks should be replaced.
They should also make sure their fluids, including their antifreeze, is topped off before winter hits, that lights are all working properly and the air filter is clean. A good way to know when an air filter is clean is if a 60-watt light bulb shines can be seen through it. If nothing comes through, driver's should consider a replacement. Lastly, if there is any sign brakes are acting up, a motorist should have them inspected by a professional.
"It's important for car owners to listen and act accordingly when their vehicle speaks up," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "By checking out what your vehicle is saying, you can take care of the problem now and avoid a breakdown or more costly repairs later."
Other tips drivers should consider when in cold weather is to always keep water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing in the car in case they are ever stranded. In addition an ice scrapper and a broom might be a good idea to have to dust off snow and even a shovel could come in handy if a car were to become stuck.