(WPRI) - The coldest temperatures of the season are expected over the next several days, and with it comes the hope that your vehicle will start when you turn the key on these frigid mornings.
AAA Southern New England reminds motorists that one of the best ways to protect against winter car trouble is to be certain your battery is fully charged and in proper working condition.
"At zero degrees your car's battery can lose up to 60 percent of its power," said John Paul, AAA Southern New England's Car Doctor.
"Even at 32 degrees your car's battery can be up to 35 percent weaker than at 70 degrees."
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.
AAA recommends motorists have batteries tested to closely monitor their condition, especially batteries more than two years old.
Here are some other factors to keep in mind when the cold weather arrives:
Oil is the lifeblood of your car's engine and this is never more true than in cold weather. Oil that is dirty and contaminated will tend to be sludgy. It is this sludgy oil that makes the engine harder to turn over and start when the temperatures drop. Use the type of oil that is recommended in your vehicle owner's manual.
Keep your car's fuel tank at least half full in cold weather. Near empty fuel tanks are more likely to collect condensation. This condensation can freeze in the fuel lines and cause stalling or no starting in frigid temperatures.
Extended warm-ups are not necessary. In cold weather, allow the car to run for a minute and then drive/accelerate slowly until the car comes up to operating temperature.
Follow your vehicle owner's manual for tune-up recommendations. Cold temperatures compound existing problems. A car that is slow to start in 50 degree temperature may not start at all when the temperature dips below zero.
Antifreeze (engine coolant) should be mixed at a 50/50 ratio with water. This will protect your car's engine to 35 degrees below zero.
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