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 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 You might want to clear out the glove compartment and throw away outdated paperwork, food or other items you don’t need.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.  

Spring Car Care

April is Spring Car Care month! Now is the perfect time to get your vehicle ready for the warm weather. Take a short car care quiz to enter our sweepstakes and find out how you could win $250* to any Approved Auto Repair Facility!


April Car Care Month

 

  1. Wash the exterior of 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 the 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 savings 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 www.aaa.com/roadwiserx 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.

Spring Car Tips

3,500 deaths each year are the result of distracted driving. According to a 2018 Deloitte study, Americans check their phones an average of 52 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. Many states now have laws in place to curb distracted driving, with violators facing fines of up to $100.
Spring Car Tips
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


Working from home? Don’t forget about your car!

Many people are working from home these days, and it’s a new situation for a lot of folks. While you’re not adding the wear and tear of a daily commute or paying as much for gas, you can’t completely forget about your car while it sits in your driveway. Depending on how long your car is idle, issues like dead batteries, stale fuel, rusty brakes, or issues with rodents and other critters should be addressed. Here are a few tips to keep your car running properly during a hiatus from driving:

  • Fill your vehicle’s fuel tank and add a gasoline stabilizer. This will extend the life of fuel and prevent condensation from building up in the fuel tank.
  • Inflate the tires to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation; the correct pressure is usually found on a placard on the driver-side door jamb.
  • Drive your vehicle at least once a week for 30 minutes. Not only will it get you out of the house, it will exercise all the moving parts of the engine and help maintain the battery. Don’t just let the car sit idle; drive it around to get the maximum benefit for all the fluids and tires.
  • When you do drive the vehicle, don’t be surprised if you hear a slight grinding noise from the brakes…this is nothing more than a little surface rust wearing off the brake surfaces. Rust can accumulate from being parked for a period of time and isn’t something to be too concerned with.
  • Take a few minutes to lubricate door locks (if accessible), hinges, the hood release and even the gas door release. Use a light oil or silicone spray, not a penetrating oil. Penetrating oil is great for dealing with rusty nuts and bolts but tends to wash away lubricants.
  • Don’t ignore needed maintenance. Many service recommendations are based on time and not just mileage. For example: your car requires an oil change every six months, or 7,000 miles. You still need to have the oil replaced and the vital fluids checked, regardless of whether you drive 7,000 miles or not.
  • Depending where you park, there may be mice or other critters that want to call your vehicle home. These rodents can chew on wires and cause thousands of dollars of damage, make nests in your filters and cause other messes. I’ve even had one set up shop in my glove compartment! There are a variety of sprays and granules on the market to deter these animals. Some have the scent of a predator and others smell like mint — a scent rodents don’t like.
  • Keep your car clean. Wash your car weekly if it’s parked outside. Acid rain and bird droppings can damage the finish. And, an afternoon spent washing, vacuuming and waxing your vehicle will burn about 1,100 calories — it is also a great stress reliever!

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