AAA: Frigid temps are killing cars

snow car
WDTN Photo

Arctic-like temperatures and above average snowfalls are taking a toll on vehicles across the region.

AAA reports it has rescued more than 13,000 Miami Valley area motorists so far this winter.

Dead batteries have been the bulk of the problems with a 48 percent increase in the number of requests compared to the same time period last year.

Tire problems and repairs have jumped 20 percent.

AAA offers the following tips to help area drivers during this extremely cold weather:

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra “running time” if the weather is unfavorable.
  • Be sure you have the proper amount of antifreeze in your vehicle. Antifreeze works to prevent engine block freezing. Also, be sure to check your entire cooling system, including hoses, belts, and radiator; to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, you lose one pound of tire pressure.  Tire pressure on all tires should be checked monthly, including the spare tire.  Proper pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker most often located on the driver-side door jamb.
  • Batteries loose cranking power when temperatures drop below freezing. The average life of a battery is three to five years. AAA encourages motorists to get their battery tested if it’s older than three years old.
  • To prevent doors from freezing shut, place a very thin coat of petroleum jelly around rubber mold on the inside of the doors. If door locks are frozen, be sure to warm the key or use a lock de-icer. Be sure to never combine heat with lock de-icer as it is flammable. Don’t pour warm water on the car as it may re-freeze, making the situation worse;(use rubbing alcohol instead, because it doesn’t’t freeze.)
  • Consider winter wiper blades and “no-freeze” windshield washer fluid. Motorists should replace worn wiper blades and always carry extra windshield washer fluid. AAA also recommends not turning your wipers on until they’re clear of ice and snow.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in below-freezing weather as it may freeze in the locked position.

Be sure your vehicle is fully equipped with a winter driving kit. The most important safety items are a fully charged cellular telephone and emergency road service coverage; small bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, “non-clumping” kitty litter)or traction mats; a small snow shovel; snow brush and ice scraper; flashlight with batteries; windshield washer fluid; cloth or roll of paper towels; booster cables; blanket; protective clothing – heavy gloves, scarf, warm boots; warning devices (triangles); first aid kit.

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