Tampa, FL - A car may run fine during the summer months, but winter weather and freezing temperatures can change how a vehicle operates. Last year, AAA Auto Club South responded to more than 96,000 roadside service calls during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday (Dec. 23 – Jan. 5), with 20,894 of them battery related—an 87 percent increase from 2008. Battery-related calls in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee more than doubled in 2009, with 14,823 calls in Florida, 2,983 in Georgia, and 1,117 in Tennessee.
“Colder than normal weather can really put a strain on a vehicle’s battery and other operating systems, especially a vehicle that is not properly maintained,” said Pete Candela, director, AAA Automotive Repair. “A battery that started easily in the summer may not have enough oomph to start the vehicle in cold weather. In winter, the engine is harder to start, because the oil isn’t as ‘fluid’ as it is in July.”
AAA recommends motorists have the following items checked on a vehicle before taking a holiday road trip to ensure motorists do not get stranded on the side of the road. AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) Facilities offer free 24-point vehicle inspections to AAA members and non-members have the peace of mind knowing these repair facilities have been through a rigorous screening process to ensure reliability and trustworthiness. To find a local AAR Facility visit www.AAA.com/Repair
Top Maintenance Needs to Ensure a Vehicle’s Winter Reliability
If your car needs regular service get it done now. To break down in the summer is one thing, but when it’s freezing or snowing outside, breaking down can be another story. Bad hoses, belts, water pumps and poorly maintained cooling systems can leave you stranded on the side of the road. It’s best to bite the bullet and get everything fixed now to be fully prepared for winter driving.
Check tire pressure.Tire pressure drops about one pound per 10 degrees of temperature. Having low tire pressure can dangerously impact the way a vehicle is handled and maneuvers.
Make sure your battery and charging system are up to par. Batteries lose power as the temperature drops. So not only do you need more power to start the engine in winter, you also get less power from the same battery.
Check the car’s cooling system. Make sure the antifreeze used will protect your vehicle at the winter temperatures you’ll encounter. For most areas, a 50-50 mix of coolant to water is needed, since the 50-50 mix has a lower freezing point. It also prevents the cooling system from rusting.
Fix any leaks in the cooling system as soon as possible. Cars can overheat in winter too, and if they run low on or run out of coolant the car can overheat and cause expensive engine damage. Plus, if you have no coolant - or low coolant - you have no heat.
Keep your gas tank close to full at all times. If you get stuck or stranded in winter, the engine will be your only source of heat and without gas you can’t run the heat. You can run the engine for hours at idle to stay warm-or as long as you have gas. No harm will be done to the engine.
Key Items to Keep in Vehicle During Winter
Shovel and bag of sand to help with traction
Windshield wiper fluid
Blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
Cell phone and car charger
AAA Auto Club South has 75 branch offices serving more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, West and Middle Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.