HARTFORD, CT (December 14, 2020) – AAA is expecting more than 60,000 emergency rescue calls this winter – just in the Greater Hartford area alone – calls that will pose greater risk and more complex because of COVID-19. With that in mind, and with the potential for an extreme weather event this week, AAA is reminding motorists that now is the time to make sure your vehicle is winter road ready so you won’t find yourself stranded roadside, with limited options that allow for social distancing.
“COVID-19 has added a layer of complexity to all our interactions, including the interactions necessary when AAA provides emergency roadside service,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “At AAA it is always our intention to minimize risk and, this year, minimizing risk means giving additional consideration to car care to ensure your safety, the safety of all your passengers and the safety of the AAA roadside rescue team.”
Last winter, AAA responded to more than 65,000 calls for Emergency Roadside service, just in the Greater Hartford area alone, and almost half of those calls required a tow. About 25% of the calls to AAA were for dead batteries and this year that number could be even higher because so many vehicles have been sitting idle because of COVID.
“We know that winter and the extreme cold can really take a toll on batteries. AAA saw a sharp increase in battery calls in the spring and the winter could well be worse,” Parmenter added. “For this reason, AAA Car Care in Southington and most AAA Approved Auto Repairs are offering free winter check-ups for members and non-members alike to ensure vehicles – and their passengers – will be a safe as possible in the coming months.
“Of course AAA is always available for emergency roadside rescue, but we’d rather provide service in advance in a comfortable, controlled environment that is safer for everyone involved,” says Eileen Chesney, manager of the AAA Car Care at 755 Queen Street in Southington.
Motorists can identify reliable, high-quality repair shops with certified technicians by looking for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. These facilities must meet and maintain high professional standards for customer service, technician training, tools, equipment, warranties and cleanliness. Nearby shops can be located at AAA.com/repair.
In an effort to ‘help those who are helping us’ through these challenging times, AAA is offering special membership discounts to all first responders, teachers and the military.
AAA Winter Car Care Tips
- Battery: Batteries typically last 3-5 years in New England. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather. At any time, AAA members can request a FREE, CONTACTLESS check of their battery through the AAA Mobile Battery Service and the AAA technician can replace it on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
- Tires: a healthy tread is critical, especially when roads may be wet or slippery. Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
- Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, 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.
- Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
- 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.
- Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
- Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather
This year, that kit should include a mask that you can have on hand, should you need to call for roadside help.
Other Emergency Roadside Kit items include:
- Mobile phone pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
- Small snow shovel
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Window washer solvent
- Ice scraper with brush
- Jumper cables
- First-aid kit
- Flare or bright triangle for visibility
- Blankets, extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
- Drinking water
- Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
- Extra medications
Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides AAA services for all motorists, such as mapping and gas price comparison, as well as member-exclusive benefits including roadside assistance and discounts. AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance. For more information on AAA Mobile, visit http://midatlantic.aaa.com/Mobile%20Services/SmartPhoneApps.