As the summer draws to a close, our focus naturally shifts to thoughts of “back-to-school”. There is much to prepare to keep things running smoothly. In all likelihood, you’ll need your vehicle to complete many upcoming errands. One checklist item that often gets overlooked this time of year is preventative maintenance for your car, truck or SUV.
AAMCO’s Back-To-School Car Prep Checklist:
Registration and Proof of Insurance – Make sure your registration is up-to-date and you have proof of insurance (where required). Keep them both in a sturdy, moisture proof folder in your glovebox or console, so you are prepared should an incident arise.
Inspection– For areas that require state inspections and/or emission inspections, make certain that your vehicle’s inspections are up-to-date and will remain current throughout the school year.
Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid – Are your wiper blades cleaning your windshield properly with no streaks or squeals? Are the washers properly spraying on the windshield and is the reservoir topped off? A sudden heavy rainstorm without good wiper blades could present a very unsafe driving situation. A dirty windshield without washer fluid is just as bad. It’s important to replace worn out wiper blades and top off washer fluid as needed.
Lights – Check all of your vehicle’s exterior and interior lights to make certain they are all working. Have a friend help by sitting in the car & stepping on the brakes while you inspect around the vehicle to determine that all of your brake lights work. Be sure to check the turn signals and make sure your license plate light is working as well.
Dash Warning Lights – If you have any warning or maintenance lights on, such as your Check Engine Light or tire pressure warning light, it’s important to get these warnings checked out and the conditions repaired as soon as possible and certainly before heading out of town. Stop into your local AAMCO center today for a check.
Tires – Take a close look at your tires or have a professional at AAMCO look at them for you, to make sure they are in good shape and the air pressure is correct. If you see some wear, it may be a good idea to have your tires rotated.
You may also choose to go ahead and change them for new ones, if the tire tread is less than 3/32 deep.
Not sure how to check your tread for wear? Use the penny test. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.
Brakes – While the tires are being rotated, have a professional check to ensure your brake pads and brake parts are in good working order and there are no leaks in the hydraulic system. If you notice pulling, pulsating, a low or spongy pedal or noises when braking, it is wise to have them checked more thoroughly to be able to determine what is causing this condition, as it could be a serious problem within the braking system.
Fluids, Filters, Belts and Hoses – Always abide by your vehicle’s owner’s manual for suggested mileage and time intervals for fluid and filter changes. If you are getting close to the intervals or your vehicle will be away from home longer than the time that’s necessary for an upcoming scheduled maintenance, you might want to go ahead and get in front of it, do it early rather than waiting too long.
Also, check the belts and hoses for any leakage, swelling or abrasions. Fluids and filters are the lifeblood of vehicle operating systems. The belts drive the water pump, power steering and air conditioning, while the hoses keep fluids inside (and not on the ground), so it’s important to keep them all well maintained.
Battery – Have your battery and connections checked while you are under the hood, to make sure they are ready for the school year. You don’t want a dead or weak battery when you need your vehicle the most. If your battery is more than 5 years old, consider replacing it with a new one to make sure you won’t have a problem later.
Keep an Emergency Kit for the Car in the Trunk– Obtain a good emergency kit and store it safely inside your vehicle. Include a good set of jumper cables, in the case your battery should fail. Make sure the kit is stocked with any necessary medications, some basic first-aid remedies and is well stocked with items needed for the part of the country you or your student will be taking the vehicle.
Jack and Spare Tire– Make sure you have a jack and a spare tire in the vehicle that is inflated and in good shape. Also, having a canister of a fix-a-flat type aerosol is a good idea for tires that get low and you need to just quickly get off the road and to a service center.
At AAMCO, we’re here for you and happy to help get your vehicle ready for going back-to-school. Also, if you are a student in high school or college, call or stop in today for our Free Vehicle Courtesy Check, at participating AAMCO centers across the country to help ensure your safety on the road throughout the school year.