CHARLOTTE, N.C. (January 22, 2019) – Emergency Roadside Service calls have been through the roof for AAA Carolinas. The arctic blast brought freezing temperatures overnight resulting in car issues – mostly battery – for motorists across both states.
“Over the past month, we averaged around 2,500 calls a day – that’s what a typical day looks like for our responders,” said Jody Smith, Automotive Services and ERS Manager. “However, in the last 24 hours, we had nearly 3,300 calls with a very high percentage of those being dead batteries.”
At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a car’s battery is 35 percent weaker than at warmer temperatures. At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses approximately 60 percent of its strength. As the air outside cools, the oil in the car thickens making it harder to turn the engine over.
“The freezing temperatures coupled with vehicles that have been sitting idle for days over the weekend resulted in many motorists waking up to dead batteries,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “We expect the call volume to increase over the next couple of days as Carolinians who were off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a teacher work day look to start their cars for the first time this week.”
AAA Carolinas recommends the following tips to motorists for battery maintenance:
- Get it checked. Have the battery and electrical system inspected by a trusted mechanic prior to extreme temperatures. This will prevent you from any surprises before you start your day. For a link to AAA Car Care Centers click here:https://carolinas.aaa.com/automotive/carcare/
- Get it tested. Every six months is a good guideline for how often you should have your battery tested, especially if it’s more than a few years old. This ensures that its available starting power stays at appropriate levels.
- Switch it off. Not the battery, of course, but the lights, heater and wipers. If you switch your engine off but leave one of these items on, there will be an unnecessary drain on your battery.
- Practice moderation. Love your heated seats and heated screens? Enjoy them, but not for longer than you have to. They use a lot of battery power. Also, keep in mind that phone chargers and other electronic devices may drain the battery if left connected.
- Park in the garage. If you have the option, use it.
AAA also offers mobile battery service for AAA Members to replace their battery, whether they’re on the side of the road or in their driveway.
AAA Carolinas also recommends that motorists:
- Check the tires – They should always be inflated to their specified poundage and have enough tread to handle all road conditions. To check tire tread, look for “wear bars” that periodically run across the hollow of each tread. If the tread has been worn down to the same height as the wear bar, it’s time for new tires.
- Check the windshield wipers, fluid and defroster – Driving with a wet, snow- or ice-covered windshield invites a crash. Make sure wipers and the defroster are in good working order. Verify that windshield washer fluid reservoirs are filled with no-freeze washer fluid.
- Check the engine coolant system – Mix the cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection. Have a repair facility check the level of protection with a hydrometer.
- Pack an emergency car kit – Motorists should be prepared in case they are stranded. A winter emergency car kit should contain a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, general first aid kit, tire chains, blanket, extra set of clothes, non-clumping kitty litter for traction, flares or reflective triangles, cell phone with extra batteries, gallon jug of water, non-perishable food items, window washer solvent, ice scraper, snow brush and shovel.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
For more seasonal traffic safety tips, please subscribe to our AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety e-newsletter. By clicking the button below, you will be registered to receive an email each month with the latest information regarding traffic safety, including travel forecasts and automotive trends.