Cold Temps Take a Toll on Cars/Batteries; AAA offers Free Car Battery Checks

car batt tlsAfter the warmest December on record in the New Jersey region, the blustery winter weather that blew in overnight is a shock to the system – and your car. Just as people scurry to find winter hats and gloves to protect their bodies from the cold, motorists should use this burst of winter weather as a reminder to conduct preventative seasonal vehicle maintenance.  Extreme cold temperatures, especially for an extended period of time, put added strain on a car and its battery.

“In frigid weather like this, weak car batteries are the first to go, especially since cold weather damage is cumulative,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “At 32°F, your car’s battery loses 35 percent of its strength. If your battery is more than three years old, it’s worth having it checked. If you’ve postponed vehicle maintenance, now is the time to take care of it.”

AAA, the premier roadside assistance provider for more than 100 years, says during extended cold temperatures they typically see a spike in emergency roadside assistance calls, where upwards of 30 percent are battery related calls or cars that won’t start.

The AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Center locations listed below are offering FREE car battery checks.  Motorists can see firsthand whether their car battery is strong enough to withstand the bitter cold weekend ahead.

New Jersey AAA Car Care Insurance and Travel Center Locations:

  • Brick – 521 Route 70, Brick, NJ
  • Bridgewater – 976 US Highway 22, Bridgewater, NJ
  • East Brunswick – 260 Route 18 North, East Brunswick, NJ
  • Eatontown – 251 State Route 35N, Eatontown, NJ
  • Edison – 222 Route 27 North, Edison, NJ
  • Lawrenceville – 2970 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ
  • Middletown – 889 Route 35, Middletown, NJ
  • Mount Laurel – 4010 Dearborn Circle, Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Toms River – 1199 Route 37 East, Toms River, NJ

Warning signs that you are at risk for a battery related breakdown include the following include: hearing a grinding or clicking sound when you turn on the ignition, your vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start, your headlights dim when idling but brighten when the engine is revved or your battery is more than three years old.

Here are some additional recommendations from AAA to make your car winter ready:

  • Get a checkup – Give your car a complete once-over, especially if it is older than five years. Make sure all belts are tight and hoses are not leaky. Test all lights.
  • Test battery – Make sure battery cables are tightly connected and corrosion-free. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 0°F, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions While three to five years is a typical life span for a battery, various internal and environmental conditions impact a battery’s long term health. Periodic inspection, testing, and cleaning are suggested, as well as monitoring the use of accessories and electronic devices when your car is not running can help maximize its longevity.
  • Check tires  – During cold weather, tire inflation pressure decreases 1-2 psi (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degrees of temperature change. 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. Visually inspect tires for cracks or bulges, and ensure tread depth is adequate.
  • Oil and filters  – Be diligent about checking the oil and filter on a regular basis. Low oil level, as well as dirty oil, can compromise your engine in extreme cold.
  • Keep it clean – Get your car to the car wash frequently to scrub off de-icing chemicals and salt. Besides eroding your car’s paint, these items can also reduce visibility by clinging to windows and mirrors.
  • Pack a bag – Don’t leave home without an emergency kit in the trunk with a fully charged cell phone and charger, ice scraper, shovel, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, drinking water, and a high-protein snack. Kitty litter, sand or salt will help with traction if your vehicle becomes stuck.


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