Sanitized for your Protection

How to get your car clean and germ-free.

Today’s news has many of us thinking about germs and how to best to sanitize our homes and workspaces. However, don’t forget about your car. A regular cleaning will minimize germs (and help maintain the vehicle’s value) — and there’s no time like the present to start.

Start with the basics. Vacuum and clean the carpets, seats and even the headliner (roof). Remove any trash from under the seats, in between the seats and console, and the back. You might want to clear out the glove compartment and throw away outdated paperwork, food or other items you don’t need. Clean the trunk and toss out any unused items that have accumulated.

Once all the dirt is gone, it is time for a good interior wash. Mix some mild dish soap and water, and using more suds than liquid, take a soft brush to thoroughly clean all the nooks and crannies. While there are many specialized interior cleaning products, soap and water are really all you need. Wipe off damp surfaces with a microfiber cloth.

The next step is to tackle those germs. Disinfectant wipes that both clean and disinfect work well. If disinfectant wipes aren’t available, use 70% isopropyl alcohol to wipe down all surfaces. Finish with a microfiber cloth. Make sure to cover all surfaces: steering wheel and shifter, switches, seat controls, interior and exterior door handles, armrests, console covers, even the sun visors. A light touch is all you need; don’t flood any surface with cleaner. Use a disinfectant spray under the seats and give a quick spray into the air vents.

If your car has a touch screen, be careful, as alcohol-based cleaners can damage these screens. Some professional cleaning crews use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and distilled water sprayed on one microfiber cloth to clean, and then wipe it down with a second. Don’t use paper towels on display screens or gauge clusters as they can scratch these surfaces.

If you have leather seats, use a specialized leather cleaner. Cloth and vinyl seats can be cleaned with an interior cleaner or a mild soap and water mix. This same mix can be used on carpets and floor mats but be careful not to overdo it. Flooding the carpets can lead to mold and mildew buildup. Make sure the carpets are thoroughly dry before putting the floor mats securely in place.

We all like driving a clean car. Taking a few extra steps can help ensure that you are riding in a vehicle that’s both free of germs and safe.  

Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road

Most of us get in our cars and drive to work, school, or the grocery store without thinking twice about it. AAA reminds you to love your fellow driver and help prevent impaired and distracted driving.

Types of Impaired Driving Include:

Virtually all drivers know that drinking and driving is dangerous. Alcohol impairs judgment, vision, reaction time and muscle control – all abilities required for safe driving. If you’re hosting a gathering, be sure to add non-alcoholic beverages to your menu, and ensure guests have a safe way to get home. If you choose to drink, never drive. Plan ahead and use a designated driver or ride share service.

Cannabis impairs virtually every driving ability, including cognition, coordination, and reaction time. Drivers impaired by marijuana are more likely to weave within or between lanes and are ill-equipped to respond to unexpected events. Marijuana-impaired driving is a significant traffic safety problem – and with more states legalizing recreational marijuana, that problem is growing. Fatal crashes involving marijuana doubled after Washington State legalized the drug. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “if you feel different, you drive different.”


3,500 deaths each year are the result of distracted driving. According to a 2017 Deloitte study, Americans check their phones an average of 47 times per day. That number is quickly rising and unfortunately many people don’t stop this behavior when they’re behind the wheel. To prevent temptation, keep your phone stored away while driving and turn off all notifications. If you use the GPS on your phone, use a mounting system that allows you to keep your hands on the wheel. Another form of distracted driving comes from newer technology in cars.
ADAS systems – such as smart cruise control, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, camera, automatic braking, collision warnings, and more – have the potential to prevent crashes, and are becoming standard equipment. In fact, more than 90% of new cars now come equipped with at least one ADAS feature. However, a recent AAA study revealed that most drivers did not know or did not understand the limitations of ADAS. For example, 80% incorrectly believed that blind spot monitoring would monitor the road behind the vehicle, or reliably detect bikes, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speeds. If your car is equipped with these systems, be sure to practice safe driving habits and never rely on the technology to prevent crashes.
Distracted driving does not just involve cell phones and other wireless devices. Eating, drinking, chatting with a passenger, reaching for objects or looking at people or objects unrelated to the driving task are all things that could lead to a crash. Even as a passenger, you can help others avoid distractions. If you’re ever riding with friends who are texting, on a cell phone, speeding or otherwise behaving recklessly, speak up. Tell your friends to focus on safe driving, ask to help them manage the phone or, if they do not change their risky behavior, ask to be dropped off.

Asleep at the Wheel?

Spring is in the air…once Daylight Savings time starts, our thoughts turn to warmer weather and the end of snow and ice. But, turning our clocks ahead one hour does more than just deprive us of a little sleep. Studies find that this time shift increases crashes caused by drowsy driving.

Are you at risk? Look for these signs of drowsy driving:

  • Yawning
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • Trouble focusing
  • Daydreaming, not paying attention to the road
  • Missing your exit, not noticing traffic signs
  • Drifting or swerving out of your lane

Remember to take frequent breaks – every two hours at a minimum. Caffeine combined with a little exercise – plus a 15-20 minute nap – can refresh you for a few more hours.

Teens and young adults are frequently at risk, since they tend to get less sleep than any other age group.  In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 16-24 year-olds are more likely to be involved in drowsy driving crashes than any other age group.

Check out our video, below, for more information!

signs of driving drowsy

Spring Car Tips

March “comes in like a lion,” roaring in with snow, sleet, rain, wind or even unusually warm temperatures. While winter conditions, as well as salt and sand from the roads, may have already damaged your car, unsettled spring weather can wreak more havoc.

Now is the perfect time to do some preventative work to keep you running smoothly this spring and summer. Here are some maintenance tips from AAA’s Car Doctor, John Paul:

Spring Car Tips

Spring Car Cleaning Checklist

  1. Wash your car. Salt can affect the paint and corrode any metal, so make sure to remove it. Don’t forget underneath…the undercarriage can accumulate sand, dirt, grime and salt.  Use a hose to get it all off. If you notice any chips or scratches, fix them now before they start corroding the paint. A good coat of wax will renew the paint and protect your car from spring weather as well.
  2. Replace filters. Spring is allergy season, so you need a clean cabin air filter to keep pollen, dirt and dust from getting into the car. Look at the engine air filter and make sure it’s clean.
  3. Refill fluids and check your windshield wiper blades. Spring brings rain, so you need the wipers fully functioning for good visibility.
  4. Check your battery. Cold temperatures require more starting power, so make sure it’s still charged and fully functioning. AAA members can call AAA Car Battery Service to get a quote and request service. If your car has been sitting over the winter, it is likely the battery will need to be charged with a battery charger to get it back to full power.
  5. Check your tires. Closely inspect the tires for cuts, bulges and other damage caused by potholes that occur in the winter. Sand and salt are abrasive and degrade tire surfaces, so check the tire treads – AAA recommends replacing tires when tread depth reaches 4/32”. Poor traction will lead to hydroplaning on wet roads caused by spring rains.   
  6. Measure tire pressure.  Potholes and cold, wintry roads decrease pressure, so make sure they’re at proper levels. Find the right pressure for your tires by checking the sticker on the insider of the driver’s door.
  7. Vacuum the interior of the car, including the air vents, to remove any debris, food, sand or salt. Clean the windows inside and out and dust the dashboard and plastic components. 
  8. Visit a trusted repair facility to give your vehicle a check-up, including alignment, the exhaust system, engine, plugs and more.  If you’re not sure who to trust your vehicle to, go to a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility in your neighborhood.
  1. Don’t think daylight saving time doesn’t affect you. Losing just one hour of sleep can make you less alert and less responsive.
  2. Take precautions against increased glare and sun. Store sunglasses in your car and keep your windshield clean.
  3. Learn the side effects of your medications. Spring brings allergies, and allergy medications are notorious for causing drowsiness. Check out AAA’s app to see how your medications can affect your driving ability.
  4. Be alert for more pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles once the weather gets warmer.
  5. Prepare for spring showers. Take it slow in sudden rainstorms; the first 10 minutes of a downpour present the highest risk for hydroplaning. Also, stay in the highway’s center lane to reduce the risk of hydroplaning on wet pavement. Most roads have a crown that sends water to the right and left lanes.
  6. Avoid cruise control in rainy conditions. You need your foot on the accelerator to keep control of the vehicle.
  7. Keep your tires inflated to the proper level. Underinflated tires don’t displace water as well, making driving in wet conditions more dangerous.
  8. Don’t brake during an impact with a pothole. Instead, brake prior to the pothole and release before impact. Less severe damage occurs when a tire is rolling over a pothole than when it’s skidding over one.
Slow Down Move Over Save Lives

Slow Down Move Over

In order to keep our emergency responders safe, all drivers must abide by the Slow Down, Move Over laws that are active in all 50 states. To learn more about how to protect those at the roadside, click below for more information.

Slow Down Move Over

St. Paddy's Day Treats!

With every St. Patrick’s Day, there are likely to be parties o’plenty.  If you’re the designated driver, there are still lots of great drinks to enjoy in celebration of the holiday. Try some of these, below!