AAA cold weather alert: Frigid temps ahead

AAA

With arctic-like temperatures headed for the state, AAA Oklahoma urges drivers to make sure their cars are ready for the cold.

Calls for dead batteries in particular have been higher than usual because more vehicles are sitting idle for days or weeks at a time because of COVID-19.

By appointment, AAA Oklahoma’s Car Care Centers in Northwest Oklahoma City, Edmond, Norman and south of Quail Springs Mall are providing vehicle checks at no cost. Membership is not required.

AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers expect to see an increase in vehicles with tire, battery and other issues caused by arctic blast. Last winter, 55,389 stranded drivers called AAA Oklahoma’s Roadside Rescue Team for assistance.  

While routine maintenance is the best protection against breakdowns that could leave drivers, and their passengers, stranded, it may have been overlooked by drivers amid the pandemic. Even with fewer miles driven, preventative maintenance check-ups are still important.

Aside from routine maintenance, AAA automotive experts recommend drivers pay special attention to these key vehicle components:

Batteries

Starting an engine in cold temperatures can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions.

The average battery lasts 3-5 years.

Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician.

Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

Tires

Air expands when it is heated and contracts when it is cooled. As the air temperature drops outside, so does the air pressure in your tires. Why is this important? Maintaining proper tire inflation is essential for safe driving. For every 10 degree-change in air temperature, a tire's pressure will change by about 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch). 

How to Check Your Tires

Check tire pressure. Colder weather can require adding air to tires. Make sure pressure levels match those found in either the owner’s manual or on the driver’s door jamb, and note that pressure levels may be different for front and rear tires.

Check tire tread. Test tread depth with a quarter. If all of Washington’s head can be seen, it is time for new tires.

Check for a spare tire. Motorists should know whether their vehicle comes with a spare tire (many newer cars do not). This helps AAA know whether to send a light service vehicle (to put on the spare) or a tow truck for a vehicle without a spare.

AAA also provides free battery and tire testing for members at home or at work. AAA also offers free battery and tire testing for members and non-members alike at metro-area AAA Car Care Centers.

Drivers can also check and add air free of charge at all AAA Oklahoma metro-Oklahoma City locations.  

Fluids

AAA Car Care experts report seeing increased numbers of vehicles coming in for repairs because of issues with fluids. With longer periods of sub-freezing temperatures expected, it’s critical that drivers take time to ensure proper vehicle fluids are being used, levels are correct and they are rated for the weather conditions.

Coolant: engine coolant performs a vital job when the temperature drops. It lowers the freezing point of the cooling system in winter. Failing to ensure coolant levels can handle the extremely cold temperatures could result in serious and expensive damage to the vehicle’s engine.

Washer Fluid: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter-blend cleaning solution to prevent it from freezing and avoid damage to the windshield washer system.

Safety

Whether you have a long commute to work or just need to drive a short distance to the store, preparation is key to making the trip safely. For more information on ways to prepare your vehicle for the winter weather visit 5 Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather Travels.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 61 million members nationwide and nearly 423,000 members in Oklahoma.