Like the Rodent said, more winter ahead.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 2, 2023) – With frigid temperatures in the forecast for the next few days, and Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, AAA is urging drivers to take every step to make sure their cars are ready for tomorrow, and the remainder of the winter.
“Being stuck along the side of the road is inconvenient at any time but at this time of year, in the extreme cold, it is potentially unsafe for drivers and passengers alike,” says Ragina C. Ali, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “A little preparation can go a long way.”
Primarily, AAA says, this means ensuring that your vehicle’s battery is in good working condition and that the tires are properly inflated for colder temperatures.
How to Prepare Your Vehicle for the Cold
- BATTERY – Cold weather is tough on your car’s battery. Starting an engine in cold temperatures can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. The average battery lasts 3 to 5 years. Often, there is no indication that it is not going to work. A battery that worked last week could fail under colder conditions. Last year, AAA saw an increase in the number of batteries needing replacement, rather than just a jump-start.
- TIRES –When the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, your tire air pressure will drop at least 1 psi (pounds per square inch) for every 10-degree drop in temperature, meaning you’ll likely have to add air to your car’s tires as the weather gets colder. The proper tire pressure for your car can be found on the placard on your driver’s-side car door—not the number listed on the tire sidewall, which is the maximum pressure your tires can withstand. The number listed on the doorjamb is the pressure that engineers have calculated is optimal for your vehicle.
- FLUIDS –To function properly in cold weather, antifreeze should be at a 50/50 ratio with water. You can check the antifreeze mix at the overflow reservoir bottle with an inexpensive tool called a battery hydrometer. Winter weather and salt on the roads mean you will be using plenty of washer fluid this winter to clean off your windshield. Make sure the window washer fluid is full and at the proper strength so that it will not freeze
- WIPER BLADES –Wiper blades have a determined life span; when they are newer, they are great, but when they are worn, they can become dangerous by not affording the proper visibility. We do not recommend using your wipers as substitute ice scrapers to remove thin layers of frost and ice. Along with cold weather and sunshine, using wipers to clear away frost and ice can damage the rubber on the wiper blades. Wiper blades should be checked during every oil change and inspection. Plan on replacing them at least once a year—or more often if you use them as ice scrapers.
- EMERGENCY ROAD KIT –Keep an emergency road kit in your vehicle in case of emergencies. Your kit should include jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, flares or triangles, a warm blanket, an ice scraper, a first-aid kit, drinking water and snacks, and a tow strap.
- NO NEED TO WARM – If your car is a 2007 or newer model, you DO NOT need to warm it up before driving. It takes only about 30 seconds for the engine to be lubricated properly. In fact, actually driving your car is the best thing to do. Leaving your vehicle running in the driveway for an extended period of time wastes gas.
With preventive maintenance, a properly stocked emergency kit, and a little patience, you can mitigate the harshness of Old Man Winter while staying safe.