AAA warns motorists about cold batteries

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2012

With below freezing temperatures predicted throughout North Carolina the next few days, batteries will need to be in good operating condition to start vehicle engines, according to a tip from AAA Carolinas.
“When the temperature is below freezing, it only generates 60 percent of its current charge,” said Dusty Holcomb, AAA Carolinas vice president of Automotive Services. “We always see a spike in requests for emergency road service when the temperature drops significantly.”
One-third of calls for service this morning involved dead batteries, said Judson E. Paterson, field support manager who oversees the motor club’s battery operations.
Some cold weather tips:
• Get your battery charge checked in the daytime before overnight temperatures fall and every time you have the vehicle serviced or oil changed.
• Keep the car in a garage overnight, if available.
• Turn off all accessories at night before turning the ignition switch off.
• Make sure battery case and brackets are free of corrosion.
• Check the tension and condition of your fan belt. If it is loose, it can affect the battery’s ability to recharge.
• Watch and listen for battery-drain warning signs. If headlights dim when idling but brighten when you rev the engine it could signal an electrical system problem. If you hear a grinding or clicking when you turn the ignition to the crank position, your battery may be weak
• Lastly, if your battery does not initially turn the engine over on the first try in the morning, turn the ignition key on and wait one minute before cranking the engine again. This gives the battery chemicals time to jell and energize the battery terminals.
“Batteries may not always give warning signs before they fail,” said Patterson. “The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years, with batteries in hotter climates lasting closer to 3 years but when it comes to batteries one size does not fit all.”
“Talk to your technician about the specific driving conditions of your vehicle (hilly, level, sandy, etc.), the climate you drive in, so that your battery will have adequate capacity for your needs,” said Patterson.
AAA operates 24 Car Care Centers in North Carolina and eight in South Carolina, all open to the public. AAA Car Care is the largest non-franchised auto repair company in the Carolinas.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, was founded in 1922 as a not-for-profit organization that now serves more than 1.8 million members with travel, automobile and insurance services and is an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.