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’Tis the season for cold-weather car troubles

AAA says that cold weather could disrupt holiday travel plans if you don’t take precautions in advance. Even if you are not among the 2.8 million Virginia residents expected to drive to their holiday destinations over the coming days, you and your vehicle could still be impacted as temperatures plummet.

“There is no convenient time to experience a breakdown, but over a holiday weekend in the extreme cold could be a worst-case scenario, especially if you are traveling with children or seniors,” says Morgan Dean, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “AAA will respond to Members as quickly and safely as possible, but all motorists are encouraged to prepare now to avoid any problems down the road.”

Last winter, AAA Mid-Atlantic responded to more than 108,000 Emergency Roadside calls just in Virginia alone – more than 30% of those calls were for dead batteries – calls that increase as temperatures drop.

Taking preventative measures and being prepared in the event of an emergency are key to ensuring everyone’s safety.

Three Ways to Prepare:

  1. Check Your Battery
  • Starting an engine in cold temperatures can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions.
  • The average battery lasts 3 to 5 years. Often, there is no indication that it is not going to work. A battery that worked last week could fail under colder conditions.
  • This year, AAA has seen an increase in the number of batteries needing replacement, rather than just a jump-start.
  1. Check Your Tires
  • Check tire pressure. Colder temps may require adding air to your tires. As the air temperature drops outside, so does the air pressure in your tires. For every 10-degree change in air temperature, a tire’s pressure will change by about 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch). 
  • Make sure tire-pressure levels match those found in either the owner’s manual or on the driver-side door jamb. Note that pressure levels may be different for front and rear tires.
  • Check tire tread. A healthy tread increases traction, essential for safe driving.
  • Check for a spare tire. Many newer vehicles do not come with a spare, which many drivers do not realize until they are stranded at the roadside.

AAA also offers FREE battery and tire testing for Members and non-Members alike, by appointment, at any of our AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers and at most AAA Approved Auto Repair locations as well.

  1. Pack a Winter Emergency Kit

No one ever ‘expects’ to break down, but being prepared can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and an extremely dangerous situation. Always have these items on hand:

  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Shovel
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Phone charger
  • Blankets and extra coats/hats/gloves
  • Non-perishable snacks and water
  • Extra medicines

AAA Membership means peace of mind

Now, with drivers keeping their vehicles longer than ever before, the risk of a breakdown has increased. Check to make sure your AAA Membership is active and that the coverage level meets your current travel needs. AAA offers multiple levels of coverage and also special savings on memberships for first responders and teachers. Visit AAA.com to learn more.

Whether you are traveling over the holiday weekend or just need to drive a short distance to the store, preparation is key to making the trip safely. For more information, visit 5 Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather Travels

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