AAA urges Thanksgiving drivers to make sure their vehicle is road-ready: NorthEscambia.com

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Nearly 48.3 million Americans will hit the road for Thanksgiving. Still, some may travel in a vehicle that is not ready for a long road trip.

AAA estimates that 400,000 Americans will need roadside assistance over Thanksgiving weekend. The three most common problems are dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts.

“Most vehicle problems like these could be avoided with a pre-trip vehicle inspection,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Before you hit the road for Thanksgiving, be sure to check everything from the battery to the tires. It could be the difference between spending Thanksgiving at the dinner table or by the side of the road.

TOP 5 ITEMS ON A VEHICLE CHECKLIST

  • Tires
  • Drums
  • Brakes
  • Fluids
  • Windscreen wipers

TIRES ARE MORE IMPORTANT

If neglected, the tires could have serious consequences, ranging from a simple flat tire to a dangerous blowout on the highway. In 2020, there were 3,069 tire-related accidents in Florida, resulting in 184 serious bodily injuries and 61 fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Check your tires once a month, at a minimum, and before a long trip.

Inspect all four tires. Since some new vehicles do not come with a spare tire, know if you have one and if it is also inflated. Look for any cuts, grooves, or bulges in the side walls. Drivers should pay close attention to tire inflation pressure and tread depth:

  • Check the tire pressure – Check the tire pressure when the car has been idling and the tires are cold. Inflate if necessary to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. You will find it listed in the owner’s manual and on the driver’s side door decal. Do NOT use the number on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Check the tire tread depth – Insert a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington’s head, it’s time to change the tires. Be sure to check several places on your tire to diagnose any uneven wear.

BATTERIES ARE VULNERABLE TO TEMPERATURE CHANGES

Changes in temperature can impact your car battery. Have a service professional check the battery to determine the remaining capacity.

Symptoms of a dead battery include:

  • The car hesitates or starts slowly when you try to start it
  • A squealing, clicking or buzzing sound when you turn the ignition
  • Lower the headlights, especially when your car is idling
  • The battery indicator is on
  • Corrosion, cracks or bulges on your battery

OTHER IMPORTANT ITEMS IN YOUR VEHICLE’S CHECKLIST

  • Brakes – Hear and feel the brakes – If you hear a squealing or feel a vibration when you apply the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.
  • Add engine oil and other fluids – Check that the engine oil, coolant, brake, transmission, and power steering oil levels are correct for safe operation of the vehicle. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.
  • Replace wiper blades and top up windshield cleaner – Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. If the wipers are dragging or not completely cleaning the windshield, replace the blades. Fill the washer fluid reservoir with a fluid formulated to remove bugs and other debris, and test to make sure the nozzles are spraying properly.
  • Replenish emergency kit supplies – AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Includes cell phone charger, flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables , flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR VEHICLE BREAKS DOWN

  • Pull off the road to a safe place
  • Turn on emergency turn signals to warn other drivers
  • Call AAA for roadside assistance
  • Stay with your vehicle, unless it is dangerous

Drivers who find themselves stranded can reach AAA by calling or texting “HELP” to 1-800-AAA-HELP

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