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Prepare Yourself and Your Vehicle for the Cold

AAA Northern New England came to the aid of around 200,000 motorists last winter and replaced more than 12,000 batteries.


With temperatures dropping to near zero in New England this week, AAA reminds motorists to be prepared. “Batteries do not perform as well in extreme cold temperatures,” says Pat Moody Manager of Public Affairs for AAA Northern New England. “When cold weather hits, a weak battery may not have sufficient strength to start the vehicle.”

Last winter AAA came to the aid of a record number of motorists- boosting batteries, unfreezing locks and towing vehicles to heated garages to thaw frozen components.  The AAA call center in Portland, Maine and network of dedicated contractors are preparing for double the call volume of a typical winter day this Friday due to the extreme cold temperatures forecasted.

Preparing your vehicle for colder temperatures can help prevent becoming stranded in winter weather. AAA recommends that motorists:

  • At 0° F a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. Even at 32° F, it is 35 percent weaker than normal.  Have a qualified automotive technician perform a load test on your battery to make sure it’s strong enough for winter.
  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water.
  • Have the battery and charging system tested by a professional technician to ensure they are in good condition to handle cold weather.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that will be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If driving in harsh climates, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent that won’t freeze, and carry an ice-scraper and snow brush.
  • Inspect all vehicle lighting, and replace any burned-out bulbs. Having clouded headlight lenses restored will greatly improve nighttime vision.
  • Have a mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any undercar openings that could allow poisonous exhaust gasses into the vehicle interior.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, and before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of snow tires in some climates may be a wise investment for winter driving safety.
  • With newer vehicles “warming up the car” might not be a necessary requirement from a mechanical standpoint but from a driver comfort and safety standpoint …it is key. Warming up your car allows for the motorist to shed restricting clothing. Boots, gloves, hats and heavy jackets may restrict movement make operating the car more challenging. Warming up the car also helps clear ice and condensation from the windows.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 19 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  AAA Northern New England can be visited on the Internet at

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © AAA Northern New England. All Rights Reserved.
AAA Northern New England is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.