Car Driving

With colder weather coming, now is the time to make sure your car is in good shape for the months ahead.

If you haven’t been driving as much as you usually do, there may be problems hiding under the hood.  Check out our Car Care Month advice, deals, and activities and get ready to hit the road safely!

  1. Have your car battery tested by AAA Car Battery Service. Every AAA member who gets a battery test in October will be automatically entered to win a $500 grand prize!
  2. Take our NAPA fall car care quiz (below) – you might win a VISA gift card, provided by NAPA Auto Parts.  Plus, AAA members get 20% off most NAPA purchases in October in celebration of Car Care Month!
    • It doesn’t matter if your answers are right or wrong, you’re entered to win just by completing the quiz! Have fun, learn a little, and you may win big!
    • Enter now and test your knowledge.

  3. Review the car care tips and advice from AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul.

  4. Still have questions? Ask John Paul and he’ll email you a personalized answer!

  5. Tune into our Facebook Live events during October for tips and advice. Get answers to your automotive questions in real-time!

    Friday, October 2 @ 2:00 pm – All battery, all the time
    Learn the signs of a failing battery, find out why it’s important to have your battery tested before cold weather hits, and have all your battery (and car care) questions answered by the Car Doctor!

    Friday, October 9 @ 8:30 am – How to handle a roadside emergency
    Everyone has a roadside emergency at least once. Learn what to include in your car’s emergency kit, and what steps to take if you break down.

    Friday, October 16 @ 10:00 am – Your most common car care questions
    AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul, reviews the most common questions he receives about car care and takes your questions live.

    Thursday, October 22 @ 7:00 pm – Top five tips for fall and winter car care
    Seasonal changes affect more than your mood, they affect how your car runs. Make sure your vehicle is its best shape to handle snow and ice, slick conditions, and cold temperatures.

  6. Download our brochure - “What to do when your vehicle breaks down” so you’re prepared in case of a roadside emergency.

AAA Car Battery Service

Battery Testing

We want to help you avoid a breakdown this winter. Have your battery tested by a AAA trained technician to identify problems before cold weather hits. AAA Car Battery Service will come to you and test your existing battery. If you need a replacement, we can do that on the spot too. All our AAA batteries are the best in the business and come with a 6-year limited warranty (3 years free replacement, 3 years limited).

If you’d like your battery tested, call and request roadside service through our new online system or by calling (800) 222-4357. (Note: This battery test will count as one of your four allotted roadside calls per year, in accordance with your AAA membership terms and agreements.)

Every AAA member who gets a battery test in October will be entered to win $500, and no battery purchase is required.  One test per membership. Winners will be notified by November 15th.


Car Parking Lot

NAPA Car Care Month Quiz

Enter our contest by answering a few car care questions below. We’ll randomly select winners from all respondents to win VISA gift cards, courtesy of our friends at NAPA.

  • First-place prize: $300 VISA gift card
  • Second-place prize: $200 VISA gift card
  • Third-place prize: $100 VISA gift card
  • 5 Fourth-place prizes: $50 VISA gift cards

Enter Now

1. How much of the battery’s power is depleted by starting the car?

  1. 3 to 5%
  2. 8 to 10%
  3. 15 to 20%
  4. More than 20%

Answer: A. 3 to 5%
The main purpose of the battery in your car is to start the engine and is designed to release a high burst of current and then recharge. Once the car is started, the alternator provides electricity to power lights, wipers, fuel injectors and fire the spark plugs.

Next Question →

2. All the components of a car battery - 100% - can be recycled.

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: True
Today’s batteries are 100% recyclable, including the lead terminals and plates, battery acid and the plastic exterior.

Next Question →

3. Leaving your car lights on and draining the battery completely will reduce the battery’s lifespan by how much?

  1. One Quarter (1/4)
  2. One Third (1/3)
  3. One Half (1/2)
  4. Three Fourths (3/4)

Answer: B. One Third (1/3)
One third. When a battery is completely drained, the lead-plated electrodes are coated with sulfate deposits. This can reduce the battery’s lifespan by a third or more.

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4. Today’s car batteries are sealed and relatively maintenance-free. However, older batteries had to be “topped off” with distilled water periodically. The first sealed battery was invented in what year?

  1. 1965
  2. 1968
  3. 1971
  4. 1974

Answer: C. 1971
The first sealed battery was called the “Freedom Battery,” because it required little maintenance and fuss.

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5. Winter tires are made for snow and ice, but in a mild winter, all-season tires are just as safe.

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: False
The main difference between all-season tires and winter tires is the rubber compounds used to make them. All season tires can become stiff when temperatures drop to the 40s, which decreases traction. Winter tires are made with rubber that stays softer and more pliable in cold weather, which makes them a better choice in the winter months whether there is snow on the ground or not.

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6. AAA Northeast had how many road service requests last winter? (December 1, 2019 – March 1, 2020).

  1. About 550,000
  2. About 650,000
  3. About 700,000
  4. About 800,000

Answer: C. About 700,000
We completed 695,589 roadside service requests in that three-month period, which was relatively mild in terms of temperatures. During colder months, call volume is much higher.

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7. Of all the roadside requests received by AAA, which reason is the most common?

  1. Out of gas
  2. Battery/electrical
  3. Flat tire
  4. Lock outs
  5. Crash

Answer: B. Battery/electrical
Battery calls are the most common service calls, representing about 30% of all requests.

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8. Windshield wipers should be replaced every six months.

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: True and False
Your wipers play an important role in driving safety and are relatively inexpensive to replace. Wipers should be inspected every six months and replaced when they streak, chatter or show signs of wear. And, if you live in an area where snow, sleet, and ice are common – like the Northeast – switching to dedicated winter wiper blades with a special design that protects against snow and ice buildup can improve visibility.

Next Question →

9. Tire pressure is affected by seasonal temperatures, so the correct tire pressure is a range, not an exact number.

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: False
While actual tire pressure is affected by temperatures, the recommended tire pressure doesn’t change. Your tires may lose pressure in colder temperatures, resulting in more skidding and increased time needed to brake. In fact, just a 10-degree change in temperature can reduce tire pressure by 1-2 pounds. Find the correct tire pressure on the placard on the driver’s side door. Then, check your tire pressure frequently – weekly in colder weather – to make sure your pressure is where it should be. You’ll likely have to put air in your tires more often in the winter than summer, but that will extend the life of the tires and give you better fuel economy, in addition to keeping you safer on the road.

Next Question →

10. AAA introduced mobile battery testing service – where the technicians diagnose and replace batteries on the spot – in what year?

  1. 1977
  2. 1985
  3. 1990
  4. 1998

Answer: D. 1998
Prior to 1998, members with dead batteries were towed to a shop to get a new battery. Today, our battery technicians are specially trained to diagnose battery issues at the scene of the call and can install a brand-new AAA-branded battery to get members on their way.

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The Car Doctor’s Top Tips to Get Ready for Winter

We’ve asked John Paul, AAAs Car Doctor, and Automotive expert, for his best advice on how to take care of your car this season. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or leave all the work to a professional, there are a few things you should always keep an eye on.

Cold temperature both limits your car battery’s power output while simultaneously requiring more power to work. “A car engine needs about 30% more energy to start when the temperatures drop to freezing,” Paul said. “And at zero degrees your vehicle battery can only deliver at 50% of its rated capacity.” Paul recommends getting your battery tested if it’s more than 3 years old and replacing it if it’s more than 5 years old. Battery calls are the #1 reason for roadside emergency calls throughout AAA Northeast’s territory.
Not properly maintaining your vehicle’s vital fluids could cause serious damage to your car. “The antifreeze/engine coolant should be clean and protect the engine against freezing,” Paul said. “A 50/50 mix of engine coolant and water will protect an engine to 34 degrees below zero.” Other fluids to inspect, replace or refill include freeze-resistant washer fluid, transmission fluid, engine oil, and power steering, and brake fluid.
Although designed to last much longer than in years’ past, drive belts and hoses will still fail.  If a radiator or heater hose leaks, the coolant will run low and the engine will overheat, possibly destroying the engine. If a drive belt breaks, the battery could become discharged and the engine could overheat.
Some engines still use rubber timing belts that connect the camshaft and crankshaft inside the engine. Depending on the type of engine, a broken timing belt can cause a wide range of damage. If a timing belt breaks on an interference engine, the engine valves and piston will collide and destroy the engine. On a non-interference engine, the engine won’t sustain damage but will stop running at the most inopportune time, resulting in a tow. Replace the timing belt as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Brake wear is one of the few issues almost totally determined by the driver. In general, most car brakes can last 40,000 miles or more, although aggressive drivers or very cautious drivers can accelerate brake wear. Many vehicles have a warning sensor that creates a high-pitched squeal when the brake pads are almost worn out. Brake condition should be checked periodically by a qualified technician.
Tires are the only part of your vehicle that touches the ground and are critical to the safe operation of a vehicle. A car with new brakes and worn tires will not stop properly. Tires that are worn below 4/32nds of an inch of tread depth can take a dangerously long time to stop in wet and snowy weather. Consider switching to winter tires, which have tread patterns and rubber compounds specifically designed for optimal traction on slick roads.

What to do if you break down.

Despite your best efforts, you may have to call for roadside assistance at some point.  Cars have parts that break, flat tires happen “out of nowhere” and crashes are often unavoidable. Preparation is the key to staying calm and composed when you break down.

Download our guide “What to do when your vehicle breaks down” and keep it in your car.

Be Prepared

Each winter, AAA responds to more than one million roadside assistance calls in the Northeast. Yet, more than 40% of drivers do not have emergency kits in their vehicles. AAA recommends you keep the following items in your car to prepare for winter weather.

  • Mobile phone and car charger
  • First-aid kit
  • Blanket(s) and/or extra sweatshirt or jacket
  • Drinking water and snacks.  Don’t forget your pet!
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Rags, paper towels, or wipes
  • Basic toolkit, including duct tape and warning devices such as flares or reflectors
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Jumper cables or jump pack
  • Traction aid, such as sand, salt, or non-clumping kitty litter
  • Tarp, raincoat, and gloves
  • Small shovel