While January temperatures have been milder than normal, winter may still bring in its share of cold air before the seasons change. Frigid air can impact vehicle performance and road conditions. AAA Northeast encourages drivers to be vigilant when preparing for and hitting the road in the cold.
Battery failures are the primary reason for emergency calls to AAA Northeast in winter months. “A car engine needs about 30% more energy to start when the temperatures drop to freezing. At zero degrees your vehicle battery can only deliver 50% of its rated capacity,” said John Paul, AAA Northeast Senior Manager of Traffic Safety and the AAA Car Doctor.
“Cold winter weather not only brings challenging driving conditions, but also automotive dilemmas for vehicles that haven’t been well maintained. These problems can increase a driver’s chance of getting into a collision if they are not diligent to inspect their vehicles and remember to drive cautiously in the event of snow or ice,” added Mr. Paul.
AAA recommends the following for preparing your vehicle for cold weather conditions:
- Emergency roadside kit: always stay prepared by carrying an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle in the event of a breakdown.
- Battery and charging system: If it is more than three years old, consider having the car battery tested. To start up during a cold snap, your car will need a fully charged battery.
- Tires: Examine tires for tread depth and uneven wearing. Proper tire tread increase traction with the road surface in poor weather conditions and can prevent skids on icy or wet surfaces.
- Coolant: Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. Also, inspect the cooling system lines for leakages, cracks or loose clamps.
- Oil: Be sure to have your oil changed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Synthetic oil can be an advantage in cold weather because it will allow for faster starts.
- Wipers: Replace any wiper blade that does not adequately clean the windshield. Consider installing winter wiper blades winter blades to assist in preventing snow and ice buildup that can interfere with windshield visibility.
In snow or icy conditions, AAA Northeast suggests that individuals refrain from driving unless necessary. When driving in snow or icy conditions drive slowly, refrain from using cruise control, allow for increased following distance between vehicles, and avoid slamming on the accelerator or brake.