Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Avoid a Service Call While Out on Those Wintry Loudoun County Roads

Winter has definitely arrived, and AAA Mid-Atlantic issued some good advice today for Loudoun County drivers during this extremely cold weather.

According to AAA, the cold weather can have an impact on your car's battery. “Although a weak battery may have enough cranking power to start a car one day, it may not have enough to start it again the following day,” stated Kristie A. Helmick spokeswoman at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

AAA offers these tips and reminders:
  • As the mercury drops, so does your car’s battery power. At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, yet the engines they must start need about two times more power to start. At a comparatively mild 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker. AAA recommends that if your battery is more than two years old to have it tested by a reliable repair shop.
  • Winter weather also takes a toll on a car’s belts and hoses, making ones which are already worn more likely to break. AAA recommends that all belts and hoses be visibly inspected for wear. Belts which are glazed or frayed should be replaced as well as hoses which are worn or bulging.
  • Fluid levels are also critical for proper operation of the vehicle and should be topped up in preparation for the cold weather. Oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid should all be at the recommended levels.

In addition to basic car maintenance, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following advice to motorists for those cold winter mornings:

  • Use your garage if you have one.
  • If you must park outside, check your vehicle first thing in the morning. Check to see if the windows are covered with frost and determine if it is possible the door locks are iced over. It may be necessary to allow some extra time to get underway.
  • If the door locks are frozen, carefully heat the end of the key with a match or lighter. A squirt of deicer spray is another quick method, or you can fill a container with lukewarm water and poor it on the lock. This should melt the ice away enough for you to insert a key and unlock the door. Never pour hot water on door locks or windows, as they may crack. Also, don’t try to chip the ice away with your key, as this may damage the key and your vehicle’s finish.
  • Start the car, making sure the transmission is in park and the brake is set. If the vehicle is inside, open the garage door so carbon monoxide doesn’t build up. Switch the heater to the defrost setting and turn on the rear defroster if you have one.
  • Allow the vehicle to run for about five minutes. While the vehicle begins to warm up, it will do most of the work of clearing the windows for you.
  • At this point, you should be able to get most of the ice or frost off the windows with a little effort and an ice scraper.

For more information on AAA Mid-Atlantic, please visit their Web site at www.aaamidatlantic.com.

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