17:00 PM

Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle for the Holiday Road

Drivers should have their vehicles inspected to prevent a possible breakdown

Nearly 5.5 million Floridians are preparing to gas-up their vehicles to hit the holiday road. Unfortunately, thousands of them will face car trouble along the way.

AAA expects to rescue more than 853,000 stranded motorists between December 21 - January 1. The three most common reasons are flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts.

"Tires are among the most important and easiest things drivers can check themselves," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Check both the tread and tire pressure. Driving on under-inflated tires is the #1 cause for tire blow-outs, but there are many other things that can go wrong on the road. Consider getting a professional inspection before your trip. A trusted mechanic can check your tires, battery, brakes, belts and hoses in hopes of helping you avoid spending the holidays on the roadside."

Drivers can visit aaa.com/autorepair to find a trusted local repair facility that has been inspected and certified by AAA. Even if drivers do not have time to see a mechanic, there are a variety of things they can look for, to lower the odds of a holiday breakdown.

Check the Following:

  • Tire pressure and tread - Inspect all four tires and the spare (if you have one). Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Check the tire tread by inserting a quarter upside down between the tread. If you can still see the top of George Washington's head, you need new tires. Check tire pressure before driving. Inflate to the manufacturer's specifications, which are normally outlined on a sticker in the driver door jam.
  • Battery - If your vehicle is slow to start, your battery is dying. Battery life is shortened by extreme temperatures and vibration caused by poor connections. Have a service professional check your battery to determine the remaining capacity and to ensure the hardware is secure.
  • Wiper blades and windshield cleaner fluid - If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, it's time for new blades.
  • Brakes - If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, get them professionally inspected. If a repair or replacement is needed, use the Repair Cost Estimator to help anticipate costs.
  • Belts and hoses - Replace belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed. As a general rule, drive belts should be replaced every 60,000 miles. Also radiator hoses should not leak or be worn, brittle, or excessively soft.
  • Engine oil and other fluids - Ensure engine oil, coolant and brake transmission, and power steering fluids are all at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. If you're unsure, ask a pro.
  • Emergency kit supplies - Kits should include a cell phone charger, car battery booster cables, flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, emergency flares or reflectors, rain poncho, basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.

Plan ahead for vehicle service

Be sure to plan ahead, as auto repair facilities are likely to be busy ahead of the holiday travel period. To find a professional you can trust, use AAA.com/Repair to access AAA's network of nearly 7,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. Each shop meets AAA's service and customer satisfaction standards. AAA members receive auto repair discounts, an extended 24-month/24,000-mile parts and labor warranty, and assistance in resolving repair-related issues.

About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.