Last minute steps car owners can take today to help protect against the cold tonight:
- Check anti-freeze to see that it protects the engine down to -30 F.
- If the battery is weak or more than three years old, consider replacing it.
- Put winter-blended windshield washer fluid in the reservoir so that the windshield can be cleaned at critical times without icing up.
- Fill the gas tank to help avoid fuel line freeze-up.
- If the tire pressures are low, fill them up today – the extreme cold weather will make them dangerously underinflated tomorrow.
- If not possible to park the car in a garage, consider covering the windshield with a blanket or some other large cloth, anchoring it in the doors and under the windshield wipers. This can eliminate manually scraping ice off the windshield tomorrow, or waiting long times for the engine and defroster to clear the ice.
- Consider what to take inside from the car tonight: portable electronic items may be damaged by extreme cold and containers of water or other fluids may freeze and then burst when warmed up tomorrow.
It will be tempting to start the engine tomorrow morning and let it idle to warm up the car. Some automotive experts approve of that, others don’t, but in any case remember that other car systems – suspension, braking, hydraulic, electronic, tires – will not have warmed up when the car first starts moving. Travel at moderate speeds the first couple of miles to let the entire car warm up.
If a motorist becomes stranded, there are no absolutely guaranteed ways to stay safe, but AAA recommends that it is best to stay with the vehicle. If the engine can be started, run it only long enough to keep warm. Make sure the exhaust pipe is snow-free. Always travel with a cell phone and car charger.
Additional winter weather driving tips are available in AAA’s How to Go on Ice and Snow booklet, which can be downloaded at: http://exchange.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/How-To-Go-On-Ice-and-Snow.pdf