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AAA: 5 things drivers should do before Thanksgiving trips

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WASHINGTON – AAA estimates nearly 40 million Americans will take to the road during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend as 94 percent of the anticipated 42.2 million travelers are expected to dr

WASHINGTON – AAA estimates nearly 40 million Americans will take to the road during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend as 94 percent of the anticipated 42.2 million travelers are expected to drive to their destination.

To help holiday travelers avoid car trouble and unnecessary delays, AAA recommends drivers perform five basic car care tasks before hitting the road. These should be done at least a week in advance to allow time to address any issues that may be discovered.

1. Tires – Check tire pressures and tread depth. Check the pressure on all the tires—including the spare—with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. The proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver’s door jamb. Do not use the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. Note that the pressure levels may be different for the front and rear tires.

Check tread depth at several locations on each tire by placing a quarter upside down in the tread grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed at any point, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. While checking the tread, look for uneven tire wear that can indicate alignment, suspension or wheel balance problems that need to be addressed to prevent further damage.

2 . Wiper Blades – Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace them if they leave streaks or miss spots. Also, make sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled with a cleaning solution that will not freeze in cold weather.

3. Battery – Ensure the battery cable connections are tight, and the terminals are free from corrosion. If the battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested to determine how much life it has left. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and can replace it on-site, if necessary.

4. Emergency Road Kit – It’s always a good idea to carry an emergency kit when traveling—and especially so when one might encounter winter weather. The winter emergency kit should include:

Ice scraper and snow brush
Sand, cat litter, or traction mats
Small shovel
Gloves, hats and blankets
Flashlight with fresh batteries
Shop rags or paper towels
Jumper cables
Warning flares or triangles
Drinking water
Non-perishable energy/granola bars
Extra warm clothes
First-aid kit
Basic hand tools
Mobile phone and car charger with important numbers pre-programmed, including a roadside assistance provider

5. Vehicle Inspection – If it’s almost time for scheduled maintenance, take the opportunity to have the car serviced before a trip. If it has been some time since the vehicle last saw the inside of a repair shop, it would be smart to have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified technician who can identify potential problems before they put a damper on holiday travel.