AAA shares tips for winter driving, weather preparation

Western New York

(File/Getty)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — AAA has provided a series of tips for vehicle battery life, cold weather preparation, and driving in the snowy, icy conditions.

A battery should be tested annually once it reaches three years old. No matter its age, it should be inspected during every oil change.

Here are ways to know if a battery might be nearing the end of its life:

  • Vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start
  • Grinding, clicking or buzzing when the ignition is turned on
  • Vehicle has stalled
  • Headlights dim when idling, but brighten when the driver revs the engine
  • Battery is more than three years old

Here are some tips from AAA on cold weather preparation:

  • Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include a cellphone charger, sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, flashlight, an ice scraper, jumper cables, a blanket, gloves or mittens and snacks and water.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is especially harsh, purchase one-piece, beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice buildup. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice scraper.
  • Inspect your tires. Make sure tires have adequate tread depth – at least 4/32” – as worn tires can affect a driver’s ability to stop in slick conditions. An easy way to check for wear is by inserting a quarter into your tread groove. If the top of Washington’s head is exposed, the tread depth is less than 4/32″ and it’s time to replace your tires. Also, check that your car has a spare tire and keep it properly inflated in case you need it.
  • Have your battery tested. A AAA survey found that two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested. If a battery is more than three years old have it checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to endure cold weather. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
  • Wash and wax your vehicle on warm winter days. To help prevent rust damage, which costs drivers approximately $3 billion every year, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish. During the winter, frequently wash your vehicle (including the undercarriage) to loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.

Tips from AAA on winter driving:

  • Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be extended to a minimum of five to six seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary.
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads. If your vehicle hydroplanes or skids, you will lose the ability to regain some traction simply by lifting off the accelerator. It will be harder to recover from the loss of traction if cruise control is active.
  • Slow down and adjust your speed to the road conditions. Leave yourself ample room to stop. Accelerate, turn and brake as gradually and smoothly as you can.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes. If your car begins to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want the car to go. Slamming on the brakes will only make your vehicle harder to control.
  • Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. Black ice typically forms first in shaded areas of the roadway and on bridges and overpasses that freeze first and melt last. Although the road leading up to a bridge may be fine, the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • React quickly. Watch the traffic ahead and slow down immediately at the sight of brake lights, skidding cars or emergency flashers.

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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