TOWSON, MD (Friday, February 5, 2021) - AAA is urging drivers to make sure their cars are ready for the cold as vehicles are sitting idle for days or weeks at a time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AAA is preparing to see an increase in vehicles with tire, battery and other issues caused by dangerously cold weather. Last winter the auto club rescued more than 130,000 disabled motorists in Maryland with about 30% of the calls for assistance with dead batteries.
“The extreme cold can take a toll on vehicle batteries and this year there is the added component of vehicles sitting idle due to COVID-19,” said Ben Perricone, Roadside Assistance and Approved Auto Repair Territory Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “To help keep you safe, the emergency kit stored in your vehicle should also include a mask that you can have on hand, should you need to call for roadside help.”
While routine maintenance is the best protection against breakdowns that could leave drivers, and their passengers stranded, it may have been overlooked by drivers amid the pandemic. Even with fewer miles driven, preventative maintenance check-ups are still important.
AAA offers free vehicle maintenance inspections at all AAA Car Care Centers and membership is not required.
Aside from routine maintenance, AAA Automotive Experts recommend drivers pay special attention to these key vehicle components:
Starting an engine in cold temperatures can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. Calls for dead batteries in particular have been higher than usual because more vehicles are sitting idle for days or weeks at a time because of COVID-19.
- The average battery lasts 3-5 years.
- Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician.
- Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.
Air expands when it is heated and contracts when it is cooled. As the air temperature drops outside, so does the air pressure in your tires. Why is this important? Maintaining proper tire inflation is essential for safe driving. For every 10 degree-change in air temperature, a tire’s pressure will change by about 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch).
How to Check Your Tires
- Check tire pressure. Colder weather can require adding air to tires. Make sure pressure levels match those found in either the owner’s manual or on the driver’s door jamb, and note that pressure levels may be different for front and rear tires.
- Check tire tread. Test tread depth with a quarter. If all of Washington’s head can be seen, it is time for new tires.
- Check for a spare tire. Motorists should know whether their vehicle comes with 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.
AAA Offers FREE BATTERY and TIRE TESTING
- AAA provides FREE battery and tire testing for members at home or at work.
- AAA offers FREE battery and tire testing for members and non-members alike at any of our local AAA Car Care locations or any AAA Approved Auto Repair.
AAA Car Care experts report seeing increased numbers of vehicles coming in for repairs because of issues with fluids. With extreme temperatures expected, it’s critical that drivers take time to ensure proper vehicle fluids are being used, levels are correct and they are rated for the weather conditions.
- Coolant: 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 Car Care experts recommend that coolant protection be at 30 below zero.
- Washer Fluid: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter-blend cleaning solution to prevent it from freezing and avoid damage to the windshield washer system.
“Whether you have a long commute to work or just need to drive a short distance to the store, preparation is key to making the trip safely,” said Perricone. For more information on ways to prepare your vehicle for the winter weather visit 5 Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather Travels.
Check your wallet to make sure your AAA membership is active and that the coverage level meets your current needs. AAA offers multiple levels of coverage and also special savings on memberships for first responders and teachers. Visit AAA.com to learn more.
Follow us on Twitter: @AAAMDNews
Like us on Facebook: AAA Mid-Atlantic News
8600 LaSalle Road, Ste 639
Towson, MD 21286
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to over 60 million members nationwide and nearly 988,000 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.