WASHINGTON, D. C. (Friday, November 10, 2017) –– Suddenly, it’s Novem-BRR! For real. Just a week ago we were enjoying Spring-like weather. With an arctic blast in the offing, weather forecasters are divining that on Saturday morning we could see “one of the coldest mornings on record so early in cold season.” As a result, AAA is expecting the first major wave of winter emergency calls beginning tomorrow morning, as drivers across the Washington metro area awaken to dead batteries.
The arctic air is expected to linger over the metro area during the entire weekend, meteorologists say. A few record lows are possible. In the wake of the plunging temperatures, it will be all hands on deck at AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Emergency Roadside Assistance fleet operations. AAA roadside rescuers will respond to stranded motorists as quickly and safely as possible. No one ever plans on getting stranded when that cold front slips down from Canada, and as the “skies of November turn gloomy,” so the auto club is encouraging anyone with a battery more than three years old to get it checked today.
“The trouble is, most American drivers - four out of ten – are totally unprepared for emergency breakdown situations, and the same is true for most motorists across the Washington metro area,” said Bobby Bullock, Territory Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic Roadside Assistance Operations. “Having a disabled vehicle is a stressful and dangerous situation. The first goal is to avoid a breakdown. The second goal, should you break down, is to stay as safe and warm as possible while waiting for help to arrive.”
The bitter bout of cold air descending upon the Washington metro area is a wake-up call for area motorists. It is axiomatic, and you know it in your bones, cold temperatures take a toll on vehicles and their components. Like the sweltering and unforgiving heat of summer, the freezing temperatures of winter will also damage hoses, belts, tires and, especially, batteries, explains the automotive team at AAA Mid-Atlantic Car Care Centers.
In addition to regularly checking all critical fluids in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to take it in for any necessary scheduled maintenance before the cold front arrives. Each year, AAA rides to the rescue of 32 million stranded motorists across North America. More than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic. So here is a word to the wise; area motorists should have their car battery tested, their tires inspected, and make sure their cars are winter-ready.
In Case of a Breakdown
Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic, if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider. Now we are facing the coldest temperatures of the season by Saturday morning. In addition to suffering from bad batteries, area drivers will also be plagued by flat tires and face lockout situations this weekend. Be mindful of the fact that the average car battery lasts 3-5 years, says AAA.
- At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, yet the engine needs about twice as much power to start.
- Even at 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker.
- Add to the mix extra items we plug into our cars (cell phone chargers, upgraded audio, and GPS devices) and a battery’s life can be drained even faster.
Compounding matters, nearly one‐third (28 percent) of 2017 model year vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment, according to new research from AAA. As the Washington area encounters the first bout of winter, motorists should keep in mind that new low-profile tires and the elimination of spare tires made many newer vehicles especially susceptible to roadside trouble. AAA also recommends checking tire pressure since tires need more air when it is cold. Proper cold weather tire pressure can be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door, NOT on the tire itself.
As a modern convenience, transponder fobs allow motorists to enter and start their vehicle key-free. Despite the convenience, each year on average, AAA comes to the rescue of over four million members who lock themselves out of their vehicles. Therefore, AAA recommends motorists take special care of their transponder and smart keys. Always take keys when exiting the car and bring a spare car key on every trip. Avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns. It behooves drivers to toss a well-stocked emergency kit into their vehicles before “the gales of November” arrive early. If you do, you will have peace of mind all winter long.
- Emergency kit items to include – deicer, shovel, ice scraper, warning flare or bright triangle, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, jumper cables and sand or kitty litter (for traction).
- Pack a blanket, extra gloves and hat, heavy coat – if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running.
- Pack snacks, beverages, etc. – have them packed by the door to take in the morning (so they don’t freeze in the car overnight).
As winter weather arrives a little bit earlier than usual, four in ten U.S. drivers are not ready to deal with typical roadside emergency breakdowns, a survey by AAA finds. Looking at AAA’s 2017 roadside assistance data shows that dead batteries, flat tires and vehicle lockouts are the top reasons members call AAA for assistance. AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers will check batteries and tires for free, whether you’re a member of AAA or not.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 78,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit http://aaa.com