AAA offers tips to make sure your vehicle is winter ready

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - AAA Auto Club South is reminding motoritst to make sure their vehicles are ready for winter travel before setting out on the road.

They report that last year, they received more than 96,000 roadside service calls between December 23 and January 5. Almost 21,000 were  battery related, which was an 87 percent increase from 2008.

"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 AAA Automotice Repair Director Pete Candela in a news release. "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 Auto Club South has offered some tips to help you make sure your vehicle is winter ready:

  • 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.

AAA also offers a free 24-point inspection for members at partipating auto repair facilities. To one near you, visit www.AAA.com/Repair.

They also recommend keeping the following items in your vehicle during winter months:

  • Snowbrush
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel and bag of sand to help with traction
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire(s)
  • Blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle.
  • Cell phone and car charger

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