Use This Winter Car Maintenance Checklist Before You Hit The Road
A simple checklist to be sure you arrive safely at your winter destinations.
With the recent snowstorm, you may have a new appreciation for winter car maintenance issues. To be sure you don't miss something important, I turned to AAA of the Carolinas for these tips, and learned a bunch myself.
For example, I didn't know where to locate tire pressure recommendations without the owner's manual.
For some morning zany-ness that only WCCB's Wilson can deliver, watch me, along with Dave Yelverton and Parker Cook from AAA on "Wilson's World" talk about taking safe and fun winter road trips.
- Check tire pressure for all tires AND the spare when they are cold
- Make sure their pressure levels match those found in either the owner’s manual or on the driver’s door jamb
- Note that pressure levels may be different for front and rear tires
- To inspect tire tread, place a quarter upside down in the tread grooves on several spots of the tire. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to replace that tire
- A fully-charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather
- Ensure the battery cable connections are tight and the terminals are free from corrosion
Wiper blades and fluid
- Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace them if they leave streaks or miss spots
- Be sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled with a cleaning solution that contains anti-freeze for cold weather use
- Carry an extra supply of washer fluid in your car
Heating and cooling system
- Check radiator hoses for leaks, bulges and cracks
- Make sure your vehicle’s antifreeze reservoir is at the full mark
- Have your engine’s coolant checked by a technician to ensure low temperature protection. The last thing in you need is a frozen engine block
- Check your heater before hitting the road. Does it work?
- Check levels and change at the interval recommended in your owner’s manual
- Stick with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended viscosity
- Be aware that your vehicle may require different oil for cold weather operation
Emergency road kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- Basic repair tools
- Water and imperishable food
- The kit can be compiled at home or purchased at any AAA branch office
- Buy a roadside service plan like AAA. Program the contact number into your mobile phone
- If you are a member of AAA, download the AAA Roadside app on iTunes or the Android market. Help can be summoned right from the app
- Leave your travel itinerary and route with someone at home or your destination
- Get a safety inspection from a trusted professional. Some things, like battery charge, require special diagnostic tools
- Visit a AAA car care center near you to have your vehicle inspected by a trained technician. FREE ($39 value)
Download my 7-page winter road trip guide
My "Winter Road Trips Guide" is chock full of ideas and checklists. Download it here.
- How to minimize whining and maximize family time while traveling
- App Recommendations
- Money Saving Tips
- Guide to Healthy Eating on the Road
- How and What to Pack
- Entertaining the Kids
- Auto Maintenance Checklist
Please share your tips in the comments.