Frozen February puts cold-weather car tips to test

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published February 24, 2015

 Before cold weather hits, It is important to take some preventative measures and keep up on their car maintenance to avoid more serious problems later.

Before cold weather hits, It is important to take some preventative measures and keep up on their car maintenance to avoid more serious problems later.

As temperatures recently fell below zero across metro Detroit, the arctic air has taken a toll on some vehicles too, according to AAA.

AAA Michigan Public Affairs Director Susan Hiltz said her association has seen an increase in service calls during a particularly cold night and morning following the Valentine’s Day weekend and culminating on Presidents’ Day, the Monday afterward.

“We had a 154 percent increase in the morning for service calls compared to the same time period last week,” Hiltz said.

Hiltz said AAA’s first priority with service calls is helping out customers who are in a dangerous situation or who are stranded. But she said the auto group is also advising people to take some preventative measures and keep up on their car maintenance to avoid more serious problems later.

The biggest problem, she said, that AAA has seen lately is dead batteries. To sidestep potential problems, it’s important to have the battery tested if it is three or four years old, Hiltz said.

Drivers can also steer their vehicle into winter preparedness by topping off their coolant and windshield fluid, she said. AAA recommends filling the fuel tank to half or more, and tire pressure should be set at the correct level too.

Steve Cerrini, service manager at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Rochester Hills, said if antifreeze is not replaced on time, it has the potential to gel up, which can bring about bad consequences.

‘That’s the last thing you want in this type of weather,” he said. “You’ll end up with no heat.”

In addition, AAA recommends keeping vehicles sheltered in a garage when they’re not being used in very cold conditions.

“If you have no garage, put a tarp over the hood or park protected from prevailing winds,” a AAA press release said. “To keep doors from freezing shut, place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame.”

Even the method of driving should be more careful as the temperatures plummet, Hiltz said.

“I would say anything below zero is definitely more challenging for cars and for people,” she explained. “The same rules apply. We have to be cautious of the icing that occurs over bridges and over overpasses during these record-setting low temperatures.”

Find out more about AAA Michigan by visiting www.michigan.aaa.com. You may contact Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Rochester Hills by visiting www.rochesterhillschryslerjeep.net or by calling (248) 652-9650.