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AAA Mid-Atlantic: Polar Vortex to Grip Region and Kill Car Batteries at Near Record Rates
AAA Roadside Assistance crews are preparing for soaring call volume as single-digit temperatures move into the region; dead car batteries could account for 50 percent of the auto club’s volume.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (Tuesday, January 29, 2019) – Old Man Winter is packing another one-two punch for the region. A wintry mix of precipitation this afternoon and evening is expected to snarl the evening commute, followed by the return of a polar vortex. With this surge of arctic air expected to bring the coldest temperatures in years to most of the region beginning Wednesday and continuing through Saturday, AAA Mid-Atlantic is gearing up to assist stranded drivers.
“Single-digit temperatures and negative wind chills can be deadly, not to mention wreak havoc on vehicles, so it’s critically important to be as prepared as possible,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers are more likely to experience dead car batteries or tire pressure issues as the temperature drops, which is why our AAA roadside assistance fleet is preparing for the expected surge in call volume in the coming days.”
Today is the day to prepare your vehicle with a full tank of gas and a vehicle emergency kit, as these could be life-saving in the event you experience a vehicle breakdown or get stuck in traffic. Being able to heat your car and have provisions handy make the wait for roadside assistance easier. In addition, if motorists can have their car battery tested ahead of the plunging temperatures, this could bring peace of mind as there are still two months of winter ahead.
“It will be all hands on deck at AAA so that we may respond to stranded motorists as quickly and safely as possible,” Tidwell said. “AAA encourages anyone with a car battery more than three years old to get it checked as temperatures drop.”
Last week, AAA Mid-Atlantic experienced its highest call volume of the year in the Philadelphia 5-county region (Monday and Tuesday), as plummeting temperatures killed car batteries. Nearly 50 percent of AAA’s call volume from those two days was for dead car batteries, 118 percent higher than the same two days in 2018.
- AAA says the average car battery lasts 3-5 years.
- Even at 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker.
- At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent 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)
AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers throughout the Philadelphia-area offer FREE car battery checks. Motorists can see firsthand whether their car battery is strong enough to withstand the bitter cold.
AAA Car Care Center Locations:
- WARMINSTER – 602 York Road (Bucks County)
- DOWNINGTOWN – 105 Quarry Road (Chester County)
- WEST CHESTER – 707 E. Gay Street (Chester County)
- CLIFTON HEIGHTS – 5233 West Baltimore Road (Delaware County)
- WAYNE – 849 Lancaster Avenue (Delaware County)
- WILLOW GROVE – 2506 W. Moreland Road (Montgomery County)
- SOUTH PHILADELPHIA – 1601 South Columbus Boulevard (Philadelphia County)
- AAA also 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.
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 percent 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.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania. 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 www.AAA.com.