Cold air from Canada has pushed its way down to Southern California, causing temperatures to drop and snow to fall on the Grapevine and Cajon Pass. Other parts of the Southland are experiencing gusty winds, scattered rain and mountain snow. The Automobile Club of Southern California is urging motorists to be aware that cold weather is tough on vehicles and especially on batteries.
In December, the Auto Club jumped more than 128,000 vehicle batteries, an increase of almost 18 percent over December 2011, according to roadside assistance statistics. This week has been colder than normal by about 10 degrees, according to weather reports, and likely could indicate even more jump start calls for the motor club.
At zero degrees Fahrenheit, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, a battery is 35 percent weaker, according to the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Manager Steve Mazor. Keeping battery terminals clean helps batteries stay strong, but a load test performed by a qualified automotive technician will help determine whether a car’s battery is strong enough for winter starts. It’s also beneficial to keep cars garaged and out of the cold in general, but very helpful to protect the battery as temperatures drop, Mazor added.
In cold conditions, the Auto Club also reminds drivers to make sure the proper antifreeze is in the car, as well as no-freeze windshield wiper fluid. Drivers should also check their tire tread and keep tire pressure at recommended levels. Car lights, mirrors and windows should be kept clean and clear, Mazor added.
What Should You Know About Your Vehicle Battery?
The average life of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, cold climate and lack of care and maintenance can shorten a battery’s lifespan. Here are warning signs that you’re at risk for a battery-related breakdown:
• Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start
• You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition on
• Your vehicle has stalled
• Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine
• Your battery is more than three years old
What to Do if You Have Suspect Your Battery is Failing
If you suspect an old battery is to blame for your vehicle trouble, call AAA. Battery testing is provided as part of the free Roadside Assistance service members are entitled to each year. As a benefit to members, AAA’s Mobile Battery Service can install a new AAA battery and recycle the old battery for you. AAA recycles every battery replaced, saving resources and keeping hazardous waste from landfills.
Since the inception of the AAA Mobile Battery Program, AAA/CAA clubs have tested more than 22 million batteries at the roadside, resulting in 7.5 million defective batteries being replaced on the scene. All AAA/CAA members are eligible for the service that includes a visit from a trained Battery Service Technician to their location to test their battery and if a problem is identified, members have the option to purchase a new AAA battery onsite. The average member cost of an installed AAA battery is $119 and includes a three-year free replacement warranty.
Android and iPhone users can download AAA Mobile, AAA’s mobile smartphone app that provides select AAA services for all motorists, such as obtaining a battery replacement quote, mapping and gas price comparison. AAA Membership is not required to download and use AAA apps, but is necessary to take advantage of unique member benefits such as roadside assistance and AAA Discounts. For more information on AAA Mobile, visit AAA.com/Mobile.