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    Prep the car for winter

    submitted by AAA Mid-Atlantic

    “Now is the time to prep vehicles for winter weather, both plummeting temperatures and elements like snow and ice,” says Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Making the time now to have your car checked for winter – battery, tires, fluids, windshield wipers, etc. – could prevent a breakdown or the need for roadside assistance later this winter. Extreme cold can wreak havoc on car batteries and tires, which is why we are prepared for an increase in call volume in the coming days.”

    AAA urges motorists to prepare their cars for winter by getting a vehicle check, always keeping a full take of gas ahead of inclement weather, and packing a vehicle emergency kit.

    Batteries:

    • AAA says the average car battery lasts 3-5 years.
    • At 32 degrees (freezing), a battery is 35% weaker.
    • At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60% of its strength, yet the engine needs about twice as much power to start.
    • A battery’s life can be drained faster if devices are plugged into cars (cell phone chargers, upgraded audio and GPS devices).

    Tires:

    • AAA recommends checking tire pressure frequently because tires lose air when air temperatures are cold.
    • Proper cold weather tire pressure can be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door, not on the tire itself.
    • Visually inspect tires for cracks or bulges, and ensure tread depth is adequate.
    • Spare tires – motorists should know whether or not their vehicle has a spare tire (many newer cars do not). This helps AAA know whether to send a light service vehicle (to put on the spare) or a tow truck for a vehicle without a spare.

    Winter Emergency Kit:

    Motorists are advised to prepare a winter emergency kit to stow in the trunk of their vehicle to have immediately available should the need arise. More than 40% of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic.

    • Emergency kit items to include – de-icer, shovel, ice scraper, warning flare or reflector triangle, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, jumper cables and sand or kitty litter (for traction).
    • Pack a blanket, extra gloves and heavy but light-colored jacket, scarf or hat (so you can be seen if you have to get out of your vehicle) – if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running.
    • Snacks and beverages for passengers and pets who may be traveling with you.

    Motorists should also have a cell phone with an external charger, and AAA members should travel with their membership card or have their membership number handy when calling for roadside assistance.

    Vehicle Breakdown Tips:

    • Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway.
    • Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic, if possible.
    • Once everyone is in a safe location, request roadside assistance.