Smart Motorists Prepare For Below Freezing Conditions

AAA Expects Upsurge in Call for Emergency Roadside Assistance

Automotive, Travel
driving in rain

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (January 6, 2014) - With temperatures expected to be below freezing tonight, AAA reminds motorists to take preventive measures and be ready for the unexpected. “Any cold snap, like the one that is currently making us shiver for this first time this season, results in an increase in calls to AAA for emergency roadside assistance as batteries fail and other car components that are on their last leg are unable to withstand the stress of the below freezing temperatures,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia.

AAA Tidewater Virginia offers the following advice for motorists:

Battery - Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery, connectors and cables. Note that at zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, yet the engines they must start need about two times more power to start. At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker. AAA recommends that if your battery is more than two years old to have it tested by a reliable repair shop. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it on-site, if necessary.

Drive Belts – Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.

Engine Hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.

Tire Type and Tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 3/32-inches of tread. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

Tire Pressure – Check tire inflation pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, check the spare.

Air Filter – Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

Antifreeze – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.

Lights – Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.

Wiper Blades – The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In areas with snow, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

Washer Fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.

Brakes – If there is any indication of a brake problem, have the system inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.

Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids – Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Emergency Road Kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include: a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats, snow shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, window washer solvent, ice scraper with brush, cloth or roll of paper towels, jumper cables, extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves), blankets, warning devices (flares or triangles), drinking water, non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers, first-aid kit, basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench), and a mobile phone and car charger pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services.

“No one wants to be stranded in the cold by a vehicle breakdown,” said Blumling. “Properly preparing your vehicle for winter driving is essential for the safety of all passengers and will greatly decrease the chances of your vehicle letting you down.”

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATWnews.