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TOWSON, MD (November 14, 2018) – As Marylanders wake up to a wintry mix Thursday morning, AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging motorists to be especially careful on their morning commute and throughout the day, as the precipitation is expected to continue, either changing to rain or snow, depending on the region.
“Thursday morning’s predicted wintry mix of precipitation will make for slippery conditions on roadways in our region and will create a headache for commuters heading to work and school,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Roads that are slick or ice-covered can create a worst-case scenario for drivers.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic is also advising drivers to not delay for a seasonal checkup of key vehicle systems in advance of the cold weather and winter driving conditions to minimize breakdowns. Harsh winter conditions make a vehicle work harder, particularly the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. The auto club’s emergency roadside service is prepared for tomorrow’s weather, as AAA crews anticipate aiding members for dead batteries, flat tires, and with tows.
To help drivers prepare for winter, AAA Maryland Car Care Centers are offering free battery checks to AAA member and non-members. To find a location to make an appointment, visit AAA.com/Locations.
Vehicle owners should read the maintenance requirements set by the car’s manufacturer in their owner’s manual. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services – including brake fluid. Each automaker has different requirements, making the owner’s manual the most accurate resource.
In-vehicle maintenance reminders provide good guidance because they account for real-time problems and how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis – such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.
AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends that motorists check the following vehicle systems:
- Battery: 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. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. 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.
- Tires: Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance.
- Engine: 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. Engine hoses and belts should be inspected for wear or cracking.
- Fluids: Important system fluids such as engine coolant/anti-freeze, transmission and brake fluid should be checked and changed at recommended intervals.
- Exhaust: Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
- Brakes: Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly.
- Wipers: Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. 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.
- Lights: Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA Mid-Atlantic is encouraging drivers to be prepared and offers the below tips.
AAA safe driving tips for slick or icy roadways:
- Slow down: accelerate, turn and brake gradually. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop.
- Do not tailgate: normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of eight to ten seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
- Watch the traffic ahead: slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, fishtailing cars, sideways skids or emergency flashers ahead.
- Never use cruise control on slippery roads: patches of ice can cause unexpected wheel spin and use of cruise control can slow driver response.
- Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes: this increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle control.
- Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses: overpasses and bridges freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
- Carry a winter weather kit in your car: contents should include a fully charged cellphone (and car charger), first aid kit, ice scraper, shovel, blanket, warm winter clothing, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a bag of kitty litter, warning devices (reflective triangles or flares), shovel, cloth/paper towels, and basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
- Plan ahead in case of a breakdown: anticipate who you will call in the event your car breaks down of the side of the road or will not start due to a dead battery.
Many of the items needed for a winter weather car kit – plus pre-assembled multi-item kits – can be purchased at any AAA Mid-Atlantic store or on AAA’s online store at www.AAA.com. To find a AAA store visit AAA.com/Locations.
AAA Tips for Braking on Ice:
- Minimize the need to brake on ice: if you’re approaching a stop sign, traffic light or other area where ice often forms, brake early on clear pavement to reduce speed. Maintaining control of your vehicle is much more difficult when braking on ice-covered roadways.
- Control the skid: in the event of a skid, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
- If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS): do not remove your foot from the brake during a skid. When you apply the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulsate back against your foot. This is normal and the system is working as designed. Do not release pressure on the pedal or attempt to “pump” the brakes.
- If your car does not have an anti-lock braking system: keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to modulate the pressure applied to the brake pedal so the brakes are at the “threshold” of lockup but still rotating.
AAA tips when icing conditions affect vehicles:
- Ice coated windshield/windows: NEVER pour hot water on windshield or windows, this can cause the glass to break. Use vehicle defrosters to melt ice for easier removal. Don’t use windshield wipers to remove ice – this will damage the blades.
- Frozen windows: do not continue to push the power window buttons if the window is frozen, it can damage the mechanics inside the door and can also cause the window to break.
- Frozen locks: never use water to thaw frozen locks, instead use commercial deicing products or heat the key and lock with a hair dryer. A lighter can also be used to heat the key.
- Frozen windshield wipers: If windshield wipers are frozen to the windshield, use the heater and defroster to melt the ice before turning the windshield wipers on. When you arrive at your destination remember to pull the windshield wipers away from the windshield to prevent refreezing.
For more tips or to learn about other solutions AAA provides motorists and their vehicles, please visit AAA.com/Automotive.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.