October is Car Care Month – time to get your vehicle in shape for the cold months ahead. We’re offering tips and advice, special deals from our NAPA partner, interactive live events to answer your Car Care Month questions, and a sweepstakes for your chance at great prizes!

AAA Celebrates Car Care Month!

  1. Test your car care knowledge with a few questions and you’ll be entered to win a NAPA gift card.

  2. Check out Car Care Month tips from AAA’s Car Doctor and NAPA.

  3. Have a car care question? Ask the Car Doctor and he’ll email you a personalized answer!

  4. Tune into our Facebook Live event this month and get answers to your automotive questions. Check out our Facebook page on October 19th at 12 noon, when our Car Doctor will answer member car questions.

  5. Visit an Approved Auto Repair shop for a bumper-to-bumper check-up of your vehicle. All our shops are vetted and certified, and all work is guaranteed. And, you get 10% off labor (up to $50) for any work performed.

  6. Save more at NAPA stores and online during October.  Members receive 20% off – twice the normal member discount – from October 1st – 31st.

An analysis of AAA roadside assistance calls found that millions of roadside breakdowns can be avoided with basic vehicle maintenance. Despite that, almost 35% of Americans have skipped or delayed maintenance/service that was recommended by a mechanic.

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AAA-NAPA Car Care Month Sweepstakes!

To celebrate Car Care Month and make sure you’re ready for the road, we’re giving away NAPA gift cards! To be automatically entered, take our car care quiz and provide your name and a valid email address. We’ll randomly select 8 total winners from all entries in early November.

  • One Grand Prize winner will receive a $300 NAPA gift card
  • One Second Prize winner will get a $200 NAPA gift card
  • One Third Prize winner will receive a $100 gift card
  • Five Fourth Prize winners will each receive a $50 gift card

All gift cards can be used online at napaonline.com or in any NAPA retail store.

AAA's car doctor, John Paul.

The Car Doctor’s Top Car Care Tips

Whether you’re a “do-it-yourselfer” or leave all your car care to the professionals, there are a few things you should ALWAYS keep an eye on, according to AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul.

There are a variety of battery types in today’s vehicles: conventional FLA (Flooded Lead-Acid batteries); EFB (Enhanced Flooded Battery); AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat batteries); even hybrid traction batteries.  AGM and EFB batteries are typically used in newer vehicles with stop-start technology. All these batteries have a recommended life span —make sure you test your car’s battery and replace it with the proper type when necessary.
Tires 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 4/32 of an inch of tread depth can take a dangerously long time to stop in wet weather. Worn tires will affect the overall ride and handling and affect gas mileage as well. Don’t forget to check the spare tire; if mounted under the vehicle, lubricate the mechanism that raises and lowers the spare.
While this is likely one of the least-read books ever written, it provides all the info you need to maintain your vehicle — both to keep it running properly and to maintain the warranty.
Some customers want their car to be perfect all the time, while others are willing to let non-safety items wait. Whichever group you’re in, you’ll need to build a relationship with your technician so you know what to expect for service and charges, and also so you feel comfortable with how they treat your vehicle. Over the long haul, a reputable repair shop will save you time and money. AAA members can find a local Approved Auto Repair facility at AAA.com/MyAAR  and save 10% on labor charges (up to $50).
Fluids are the life’s blood of your vehicle. If they’re allowed to become contaminated or run low, fluids — such as transmission, oil and coolant — can cause catastrophic damage to the components they are designed to protect.
Even the best engine will use some oil. With extended oil changes in some vehicles (up to 10,000 miles or once per year), it is possible that your vehicle’s engine could run low. Check the engine oil level once per month, or more often if needed. Use the correct type of oil as directed in the owner’s manual.
Although it may be called permanent, antifreeze doesn’t last forever. Coolant can become contaminated and acidic, causing damage to the engine. Change the coolant as suggested in the owner’s manual — or sooner if it’s contaminated or not protecting the engine against freezing to 35 degrees below zero temps. There are many types of coolant, use the correct type for your vehicle’s engine.
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 linings are almost worn out. Brake condition should be checked periodically by a qualified technician. Brake fluid should be replaced periodically (in most cases every three years).
Electric vehicles need much less maintenance than conventional vehicles, but some still have coolant and brake fluids that needs replacing, filters that need checking, as well as other mechanical components. Hybrid vehicles may have longer maintenance schedules than conventional gasoline cars, but maintenance is important. Follow the guide in the vehicle owner’s manual.

What to Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down

Emergency Kit Contents +

AAA recommends putting an emergency kit in your car for winter weather. Hopefully, you will never need it, but roadside emergencies happen without warning when you least expect them. An emergency kit can make the wait safer and more comfortable.

  • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services
  • Mobile phone car charger
  • Drinking water or sports drinks
  • First-aid kit – including any necessary medication
  • Non-perishable food for humans and pets
  • Traction aids (sand, salt, non-clumping cat litter)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (gloves, boots, hats, scarves)
  • Extra window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
What to do when your vehicle breaks down brochure.

AAA has a brochure to guide you through the steps should you break down on the side of the road.

Roadside Assistance Truck