COLUMBUS — As cooler weather sets in, AAA anticipates issues with vehicle batteries, tires, rubber components and more. Many vehicles have sat more this year, due to the pandemic. This could have long-term consequences and lead to more breakdowns this winter. AAA’s automotive experts urge drivers to focus on key maintenance issues now, to avoid expensive repairs down the road.
Ohio’s traffic counts bottomed out at 49 percent in April compared to last year, and since the last week of June have stayed consistently around about 15 percent below last year’s numbers, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. Despite this, AAA has seen an increase in some types of breakdowns, especially battery failures.
“The worst thing a car can do is sit,” said Donald Paxton, director, Club Owned Repair for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “AAA finds 62 percent of cars are behind schedule for routine maintenance, which can lead to breakdowns and costly repairs. If your car has sat for an extended period of time this year, it’s even more important than ever to get it checked out by a qualified technician before temperatures plummet.”
In recognition of October as Car Care Month, AAA is offering drivers five car care must-dos, to prevent breakdowns this winter.
Check the Battery: Car batteries have taken the biggest hit this year. AAA Ohio’s calls for dead car batteries were up 27 percent between March 15 and Aug. 31, with April, May and June experiencing record numbers of dead batteries. AAA expects this trend to continue as the temperatures drop. Starting an engine in cold weather requires a fully charged battery in good condition, yet two-thirds of drivers never check their battery before it dies. If your battery is at least 3 years old, or has sat for extended periods of time this year, have a technician test it before winter hits.
Change the Oil: One of the most important things drivers can do for their car is to change their oil regularly. The proper interval will be listed in the vehicle owner’s manual. Often, it depends on the climate and how much you drive. Between changes, check oil and fluid levels monthly. Always make sure to use the right oil for your car. Reputable repair shops can help with this.
Change Filters: Air filters clean the engine and cabin filters clean the air in the vehicle’s cabin. All vehicles have air filters, but not all have cabin filters. To determine whether or not your car has a cabin filter, check the vehicle owner’s manual, or ask your technician. Both filters should be changed annually.
Change the Wiper Blades: Automotive experts recommend changing wiper blades every six months. Blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. Winter wiper blades, which wrap the blade in a rubber boot, can help prevent ice and snow buildup.
Check the Tires: The cold can decrease tire pressure and make tires susceptible to going flat. Proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Tire treads helps grip winter roads. Check for low tread depth and uneven wear.