(AAA media release):
A year’s worth of pent-up demand is about to be unleashed as 34 million Americans prepare for a Memorial Day road trip. For many, this could be their first road trip in quite some time and AAA is urging drivers to make sure their vehicles are ready.
“Some vehicles may have spent more time in the driveway than on the roadway after a year of disrupted schedules due to the pandemic,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA cautions drivers about hitting the road in vehicles that haven’t been properly maintained. A pre-trip inspection will go a long way to ensure you don’t spend the holiday on the roadside.”
AAA expects to rescue more than 468,000 Americans this Memorial Day weekend, mostly due to situations that could be avoided with a simple vehicle inspection. Drivers can find a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility by visiting AAA.com/AutoRepair.
Underinflated Tires Cause Blowouts
The top three reasons drivers request help from AAA are for flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts. Your tires are where the rubber meets the road. If neglected, tires could create serious consequences – ranging from a simple flat to a dangerous blowout on the highway.
“If people have not serviced their vehicle lately, chances are their tire pressure is low,” Waiters continued. “Low tire pressure is one of the lead contributors to tire blowouts. Consider checking the air in your tires the next time you fill up the gas tank.”
AAA recommends checking your tires once a month, at minimum, and before taking a long trip. Inspect all four tires and, if you have one, the spare tire as well. Look for cuts, gouges or sidewall bulges. Drivers should pay special attention to both tire inflation pressure and tire tread depth:
- Check Tire Inflation Pressure – Check tire pressure when the car has been idle and tires are cool. Inflate as needed to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You will find it listed in the owner’s manual and on the sticker on the driver side door. Do NOT use the number on the tire sidewall.
- Check Tire Tread Depth – Insert a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington’s head, it is time for new tires. Be sure to check in multiple spots across your tire to diagnose any uneven wear patterns.
In addition to checking tires, AAA recommends getting a vehicle inspection or following this simple checklist before any long trip to help avoid a breakdown along the way.
Additional Checklist Items
- Listen to and feel the brakes – If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection. A service professional will check the brake system for fluid leaks, brake pads, rotors, shoes and drums.
- Secure and test the battery – Make sure cable connections are clean and tight, and the hold down hardware is secure. Have a service professional do a battery check to determine remaining capacity. AAA members may request a free battery check.
- Top off engine oil and other fluids – Check that engine oil, coolant, brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.
- Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner – Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with fluid formulated to remove insects and other debris, and test to make sure the nozzles spray adequately.
- Replenish emergency kit supplies – AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.
Be Prepared in Case Your Vehicle Breaks Down
Drivers who find themselves stranded can reach AAA by calling or texting “HELP” to 1-800-AAA-HELP (save this in your contacts), submitting a request via the web (bookmark in your favorites), or using the AAA mobile app (available on Google Play or in the App Store).
Visit the AAA Georgia Newsroom