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Don’t Let Cold Strand You

AAA reports nearly double the number of emergency calls as last year.

 

You aren’t the only one feeling the cold. Your car is too.

AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that on Tuesday it responded to nearly double the number of battery calls it had on the same day last year.

Batteries are the biggest reason motorist call during a cold spell, according to AAA.

“When temperatures plummet, automotive failures skyrocket. We know that the severe cold will cause calls to AAA for jump starts and frozen locks increase tremendously, but most of these calls are preventable with appropriate maintenance,” said Jenny M. Robinson, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic in a press release.  “In frigid weather like this, weak car batteries are the first to go, so it’s worth having your battery checked – and if you’ve postponed vehicle maintenance, now is the time to take care of it.”

AAA has tips for driving in the cold and making sure you don’t get stranded:

  • Charge!! -- Cold weather is a battery killer.  At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, yet the engine needs about 2 times more power to start.  Make sure the battery terminals and cables are securely attached and free of corrosion.  A load test performed by a qualified technician will help determine if a car’s battery is strong enough for cold weather starts.
  • Key Solution – With moisture from the ice and snow combining with frigid temperatures, lock failure will be very common.  Frozen door locks can be overcome by carefully heating the end of a key with a match or lighter.  Other methods include: dipping the tip of the key in rubbing alcohol, using a can of de-icer spray, or heating the lock with a hair dryer.  Never pour hot water on a lock or windshield because this could worsen the problem or cause the windshield to shatter.
  • Cool It - Make certain cooling system antifreeze is mixed with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.  Flush out your radiator and refill with a 50/50 mix at least once every three years.
  • Air It Out - Don’t let frigid temperatures tempt you into starting your car in a closed garage or idling your engine for long periods with the windows closed.  Carbon monoxide, present in exhaust fumes, is almost impossible to detect and can be fatal when breathed in a confined area.
  • Tires – Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended levels (see car manual, not tire itself!).

“If you are not planning on using a vehicle for several days, we urge you to at least start it and run it for a few minutes to avoid a nasty surprise,” Robinson said.  “And give yourself plenty of time getting started in the morning in case your car won’t start.”

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