AAA offers tips to get your car ready for cold temperatures

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – With more than 5,200 AAA roadside rescues recorded this past summer alone in West Virginia alone, AAA reminds motorists that cars need periodic checkups to maintain safety and maximize efficiency.

AAA recommends motorists use a simple checklist to determine their vehicle’s fall and winter maintenance needs. Many of the items on the list can be inspected by a car owner in less than an hour, but others should be performed by a certified technician.

“Don’t wait until temperatures drop below freezing to get your car ready for winter,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.  “During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. It is advisable to have your battery tested, as well as your starting and charging systems prior to the deep cold of winter.”

Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign.   These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness. Nearby shops can be located at AAA.com/repair.

Harsh winter conditions make your vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Cold weather is especially hard on car batteries. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent.  Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.  AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can test and replace weak batteries.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
  • Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include:
    • Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
    • Drinking water
    • First-aid kit
    • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
    • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
    • Snow shovel
    • Blankets
    • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Window washer solvent
    • Ice scraper with brush
    • Cloth or roll of paper towels
    • Jumper cables
    • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
    • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts.  AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance.  For more information on AAA Mobile, visit aaa.com/mobile.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com