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Tips for driving in cold weather

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HARTFORD — It’s been a busy few days for AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team and it’s only expected to get busier with subzero temperatures in the forecast for tonight. Here’s the tally so far this workweek:

Monday – 1,104 calls (including 302 battery problems, 118 flat tires and 92 lockouts)

Tuesday –  1,128 calls (including 334 battery problems, 128 flat tires and 107 lockouts)

Wednesday – 380 calls (as of 11 am)

(Numbers are for emergency road service in Greater Hartford and eastern Connecticut—Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties.)

Cold-weather car care tips from AAA:

Check for Battery Warning Signs

The average life of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, climate and lack of care and maintenance can shorten a battery’s lifespan. Here are some warning signs that you are at risk for a battery-related breakdown:

Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start

• You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition on
• Your vehicle has stalled
• Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine
• Your battery is more than three years old

What to Do if You Suspect Your Battery is Failing?

If you suspect an old battery is to blame for your vehicle trouble, call AAA. Battery testing is provided as part of the free Roadside Assistance service members are entitled to each year.  As a benefit to members, AAA’s Mobile Battery Service can install a new AAA battery and recycle the old battery for you.

Keep an Eye on Your Tires

Cold weather can reduce tire pressure, so check tires frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on the driver’s door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.

Frozen Locks

To help prevent icing, use silicone or graphite spray, sprayed into the lock. If your lock is already frozen, carefully warm up the key. Commercial deicers are also available at hardware and automotive stores. AAA does not recommend pouring hot water into or around your door lock because the water will freeze.

EV Cold-Weather Range Anxiety

AAA reminds electric vehicle owners that their range may be reduced in cold conditions. The cold limits battery performance and running the heater drains the battery. Newer electric vehicles can travel more than 100 miles with a full charge, but AAA tests found that EV range can be reduced by an average of 57 percent when temperatures drop to 20 degrees.

Carry an Emergency Roadside Kit

AAA encourages motorists to carry an emergency roadside kit for winter that includes the following items:

  • fully-charged mobile phone and car charger
  • blankets
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • first-aid kit
  • drinking water and snacks
  • small shovel and sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats
  • windshield scraper and brush
  • battery booster cables
  • emergency flares or reflectors