Is your car ready for winter?

Posted at 11:58 AM, Jan 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-22 12:01:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Is your car ready for the winter? With frigid temperatures in the forecast this week, AAA Mid-Atlantic, provided some information to help your car survive the cold weather.

AAA said service calls usually increase 30 percent during long stretches of cold weather. The majority of those calls involve dead car batteries.

“Drivers may get an early warning when their car battery is about to die,” Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in a statement. “Motorists may notice their car will start slower than usual, interior lights may start to dim or flicker.”

Meade said to test your car battery if you experience those warning signs while behind the wheel. You know your car battery has died when your car make a series of rapid clicks and will not start, she said.

My car battery has died. What now?

AAA offered the following tips to jump start your car’s battery:

  • See your owner’s manual for detailed information on how to care for your vehicle.
  • Always wear safety glasses when jump starting a battery in case of an explosion.
  • Check for visible signs of failure, such as corroded or loose connections.
  • Attach the negative connection to the metal frame of the car to avoid too much power going into the negative battery.
  • Attach jumper cables to dead battery first to prevent live cables.
  • Attach positive cable and negative cable last to the live battery to avoid sparks.
  • Always double check connections to make sure you have correct polarity to avoid damage to the car’s electrical system.

My car battery is good to go. What else do I need to know?

Dying car batteries are not the only thing to look out for this winter. Here are some other things AAA said to keep in mind this winter:

  • Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
  • Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
  • Check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended levels. Never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work and leads to excessive tire wear.
  • Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, excessively soft or bulging. Check for leaks around hose clamps and the water pump.
  • Have a certified technician check vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster.
  • Update emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand or cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.