Preparing Your Vehicle for Extreme Cold

Extreme cold can cripple a vehicle, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

Connecticut drivers are gearing up for another blast of freezing cold.

Extreme cold can cripple a vehicle, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

At the AAA Car Care Center in Southington mechanics were busy Wednesday making sure cars can weather the single-digit and subzero temperatures expected.

“The main thing is probably batteries. Cars not starting and getting stuck on the side of the road,” explained mechanic Jaek Staron.

During the cold snap last week when temperatures were in the teens and single digits, AAA of Greater Hartford got more than 5,000 calls for help. About half of those calls were for dead batteries and many of them required a tow.

“Generally batteries last about three to five years, but with the cold weather and extreme conditions we’ve seen batteries as old as six months have a bad cell in them and cause the car not to start,” Staron said. AAA says at zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. Battery life can also be drained faster if you have devices like cell phone chargers or GPS plugged into your car.

Staron also suggested checking tire pressure and adding air as needed because of slippery conditions. Tires tend to lose air when air temperatures are cold.

Experts advise drivers to keep emergency items in the car in case of a breakdown. Your kit should include items like a shovel, ice scraper, flares or reflectors to make sure you’re seen in the dark, sand or kitty litter for traction, warm clothes and blankets, and snacks in case you’re stuck for a long time.

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