Richmond, VA(Friday, February 12, 2021)- AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging Virginians to be prepared for the potential for several rounds of winter weather over the next few days. These systems could be packing a mixed bag of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain which could make driving treacherous. AAA urges drivers to make sure their cars are ready for whatever winter weather comes their way as vehicles have been sitting idle for days or weeks at a time because of COVID-19.
“Drivers could see a mix of conditions on the roads that could be constantly changing,” said Morgan Dean, Senior Public Affairs Specialist with AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers should stay off the roads until they can be cleared. Those who do have to drive should be aware that conditions can change quickly when temperatures are around the freezing mark. Wet pavement can quickly become a sheet of ice. Drivers should be especially careful around bridges and overpasses as they freeze first and melt last.”
AAA is preparing to see an increase in requests for vehicles with tire, battery and other issues caused by winter precipitation and cold weather. Last winter, which was relatively mild, nearly 96,000 stranded drivers in Virginia called AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team for assistance.
With the threat of several storms on the horizon over the next few days, AAA Mid-Atlantic has 10 things for you to think about:
Positive your vehicle battery is ready? Vehicle batteries weaken when vehicles sit idle for a period of time (like during COVID) and during sustained cold temperatures. The combination of the two, can result in a very weak battery at a time when the highest battery power is needed to get a car started. At 32 degrees, a battery is 35% weaker. At zero degrees, a cars battery loses 60 percent of its strength, yet engines need about twice the power to start.
No Warming Trend: If your car is a 2007 or newer model, you DO NOTneed 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. Take enough time to be sure your vehicle is clear of snow and ice and that you can see out of all of the windows. Cars warm up faster on the road than when they are stopped. Leaving your vehicle running in the driveway for an extended period of time wastes gas.
Don’t be a Victim: Never leave a car running with the key or key fob inside of it. Thieves can make off with a running vehicle in an instant. Never start a car and leave it running in a garage without adequate ventilation.
De-ice is Nice: With freezing rain in the forecast, ice is a real threat to vehicles sitting out in the elements. Frozen door locks can be overcome by carefully heating the end of a key with a match or lighter. A squirt of de-icer spray is another quick method. Remember not to leave the de-icer in your car as you won’t have access to it if your locks freeze; keep it in your home, office, purse or briefcase. Do not pour hot water over a frozen lock or ice-covered vehicle, as it could damage your car.
Cool! Cool! Cool! Engine coolant performs a vital job when the temperature drops. It lowers the freezing point of the cooling system in winter. Failing to ensure coolant levels can handle the extremely cold temperatures could result in serious and expensive damage to the vehicle’s engine. AAA automotive experts recommend that coolant protection be at 30 below zero.
Get Tanked Up: Keep a vehicle filled with at least a half of a tank of gas. A half to full tank gives a driver the ability to keep a car running for warmth if they are stranded somewhere. Gas also gives a vehicle extra weight which can help with traction in snow. It can also help avoid gas line freeze up.
Bigger isn’t Always Better, Guard against SUV overconfidence: Four-wheel-drive vehicles are great for initial traction and avoiding getting stuck, but once they are moving, they have the same difficulty keeping control and stopping as other vehicles. On ice, they are at just as much at risk of slipping and sliding as smaller non-4WD vehicles.
Travel gently: Drive, turn, and brake slowly. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
Under Pressure: AAA also recommends checking tire pressure since tires need more air when it is 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.
Always drive prepared: Should a breakdown occur, have a charged-up cell phone, and your winter emergency kit with an ice-scraper, shovel, flash light, kitty litter for traction, and your mask, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Yesterday’s pileup in Fort Worth, Texas proves how important it is for drivers to have a winter emergency kit in their vehicles in case they are stuck on the highway for an extended period of time because of a road closure and backups.
VA Mailing Address:
9210 Arboretum Pkwy, Ste 290
Richmond, VA 23236
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Virginia. 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.