AAA: drivers should test batteries

As the cold wintry months approach, AAA braces for an increase in roadside assistance calls for dead batteries.

According to data from last winter, AAA East Central contractors responded to 66,548 battery-related calls and replaced 14,198. With the pandemic leaving many vehicles dormant for weeks or months, AAA East Central advises all vehicle owners to have their batteries tested sooner rather than later to avoid a breakdown.

“Cars are born to run, and letting them sit idle for long periods of time is setting them up to fail,” says Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services at AAA East Central. “Year to year, our number one call during the winter months is for dead batteries. This year, we could see that skew even higher.”

Batteries supplies the electrical current needed to start a vehicle, but they also power components and accessories when the engine isn’t running. If a vehicle doesn’t run regularly, there’s less of a chance for the alternator and charging system to maintain a charge in the battery. Moreover, the heat from the summer sun is particularly damaging to its internal components. In the winter, that damage typically manifests in the form of a dead battery, particularly after cold snaps.

Other items on AAA’s Winter Car Care Checklist include:

Tire Type and Tread: In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. Testing tire’s tread is easy: insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of George Washington’s head facing down. If the top of Washington’s head can be seen, purchase new tires.

Tire Pressure: Typically, tire pressure decreases 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit that the temperature drops, putting owners at risk for a flat tire. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Check the spare tire as well.

Wiper Blades: Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. Consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade in a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow buildup.

Washer Fluid: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components.

Coolant Levels: If engine coolant level is low, add the recommended coolant to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability.


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