AAA Offers Extreme Winter Weather Automotive Advice


INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Jan. 29, 2019 – With the arrival of sub-zero temperatures throughout Indiana, AAA Hoosier Motor Club reminds motorists to prepare accordingly. Extreme temperatures can adversely affect automobiles in many ways. Tire pressure can drop significantly, batteries are likely to be weakened, engine belts can lose a certain amount of flexibility and hoses can be put under a lot of stress.

Before the Big Chill...

  • Make sure your gas tank is filled up at least half way to avoid fuel line freeze-up issues.
  • Check your tires to ensure they're properly inflated.
  • Spray WD-40 or another general purpose lubricant into key holes to help prevent frozen locks.
  • Fight the urge to wash your automobile--lingering water will freeze in your car's locking mechanism and may even make it difficult to open doors.

Prepare Your Vehicle…

  • Battery and Charging System - Have your vehicle's battery and charging system tested by a qualified technician. A full-charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. AAA members can request a visit from a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician who will test their battery and replace it, on-site, if necessary. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can also test and replace weak batteries.
  • Battery Cables and Terminals - Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.
  • Drive Belts - Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks and fraying. Many newer multi-rib "serpentine" belts are made of materials that do not show obvious signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals.
  • Engine Hoses - Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.
  • Tire Tread - Shop for new tires when tread depth reaches 4/32 of an inch; replace any tire whose tread is worn to 2/32 of an inch or less. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems--must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.
  • Tire Pressure - Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures - typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper tire pressure levels for a given vehicle can be found in its owner's manual or on a tire info sticker typically located on the driver's side door jamb.
  • Air Filter - Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
  • Lights - Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers and back-up lights. Replace any burnt-out bulbs.
  • Wiper Blades - The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots.
  • Washer Fluid - Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that is formulated to prevent it from freezing.
  • Brakes - If there is any indication of a potential brake problem, have the system inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.
  • Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids - Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.

Pack an Automotive Emergency Kit…

  • Fully-charged mobile phone pre-programmed with important numbers including those for family members and emergency service providers
  • Cell-phone charger equipped with a car adaptor
  • AAA membership card
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks for humans and pet passengers (if applicable)
  • First-aid kit
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter) or traction mats
  • Shovel
  • Blankets and extra clothing including hats and gloves
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries - an extra set of fresh batteries too
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Windshield washer deicer fluid
  • Snow brush/ice scraper
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Rope and rags
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

Driving Tips…

Don't drive at the same speed you would in clear, dry conditions.

  • Rain, snow and ice can dramatically reduce tire traction.
  • Drivers should slow down to regain the traction that is lost due to inclement weather.

Do not brake and turn at the same time.

  • Asking your vehicle to do two things at once makes it more likely that your tires will lose traction.
  • Brake first, then turn, then accelerate.

Don't follow behind other vehicles as closely as you would when driving in clear, dry conditions.

  • Your vehicle needs more time to slow down on slippery road surfaces.
  • Increase following distances to a minimum of 5-6 seconds.
  • Always keep open space to at least one side of your vehicle, in case you need to make an emergency lane change maneuver.

Don't be rough with your steering, acceleration and braking.

  • If you're not gentle with steering, acceleration and braking, your vehicle's balance can be negatively affected, which will increase the chances of your vehicle going into a spin.
  • Always steer, accelerate and brake smoothly.

Don't hit the brakes if you start to skid.

  • Slamming on the brakes can make the skid even worse.
  • If skidding, continue to look and steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.