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Avoid Freezing Your Battery Off

We have yet to endure the relentlessly snowy and cold conditions of last winter and the car problems they can cause, but that does not mean there will not be a cold snap. Or two.

At least we won't be alone. According to Fran Mayko of AAA Southern New England , on a typical winter Monday, "We receive about 900 calls. But we expect to do well over 2,000 jumpstarts in the cold snap." She adds, "The most common cause of these cold-weather breakdowns is a weak or dead battery."

AAA has the following tips to keep your car battery strong and start-worthy, even in frigid temperatures.

  • Have your battery tested to monitor its condition, especially if it is more than two years old. Corrosion around the terminals and low fluid levels under the plates can also cause malfunctions.
  • The most common sign of a weak battery is an unusual sound coming from the starter motor when the ignition key is turned, indicating difficulty in starting the engine.
  • If your car won't start in the cold, don't lean on the ignition switch. Shut off the ignition, wait a minute or two and then try again. Once the car starts, don't rev the engine. Allow the engine and oil to warm up for a minute or so. Once on the road, drive at a steady speed while the engine gets to cruising temperature.
  • Car engines depend on oil for lubrication. But old oil thickens and turns molasses-like in cold temperatures. Make sure you change your oil regularly.
  • Fill it up. When the tank is more than half empty, condensation can form on the inside walls. The water can drop into the gas and cause the gas line to freeze.
  • Often in frigid temperatures rubber gaskets around car doors freeze, making opening or closing them difficult. Spraying some silicone on them keeps them pliable. And spray silicone in the car door locks to prevent them from freezing, because silicone displaces moisture.

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