Nationwide  –  Whether the first blast of cold winter has just hit your area, or you have yet to receive it, we all know that sooner or later winter is coming and will probably stay awhile.

That’s why auto experts say the best time to make sure your vehicle is ready for cold temperatures and snow is now.

Wintry weather takes a real toll on vehicles, and there are simple things you can do right now to put the odds in your favor.

Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA-Wisconsin, says the first blast of frigid air will generate a huge volume of calls for help.

“If we’re talking about cold and extreme frigid temperatures like we saw with the polar vortexes that came through a couple years ago, batteries are the number one thing,” he states. “Cold weather really reduces your battery’s ability to fully turn over and get the engine started.”

Jarmusz explains as temperatures drop, it slows down the chemical reaction inside the battery, which makes it harder to create enough voltage to start the engine.

Jarmusz suggests that if your battery is more than three years old, it may be time to replace it before the intense cold hits.

Another tip for winter driving that many drivers are not aware of is that you should never engage cruise control on wet, icy, snowy or slippery pavement.

“If you do hit a patch and your wheels begin to spin, it’s going to throw off that acceleration monitoring on the cruise control, and it could cause it to begin moving faster and send you into a spin that could cause you to lose control of the vehicle,” Jarmusz explains.

According to Jarmusz, vehicles with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive can give drivers a false sense of security about driving on snow or ice.

He says drivers of those vehicles tend to drive more aggressively because they feel more confident.

“And while there are a lot of advantages to having all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive in the wintertime, one thing that it can’t do is make you stop any faster,” he stresses. “Once you apply the brake, your car goes from being four-wheel drive to zero-wheel drive, just like any other car.”

Jarmusz says you should also check now to be sure your tires have adequate tread depth and proper inflation to deliver the best traction for winter driving.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service