EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With record-breaking cold expected this weekend, AAA Northeast is urging drivers to make sure their car batteries are in good shape.

AAA Northeast’s Diana Gugliotta tells 12 News it takes 35% more power to turn an engine over in colder weather, which can strain a car’s battery.

“We see it every year at AAA on the first really cold freezing day,” Gugliotta said. “Thousands of car batteries die all at once, and it’s just because vehicles require more power to get started in the cold.”

Gugliotta said it’s important for drivers to check their car batteries for possible corrosion or damage before the cold weather hits.

To avoid being left out in the cold, AAA Northeast suggests drivers do the following:

  • Replace your battery if it is more than 5 years old.
  • Drive your car on a regular basis. If you work at home and don’t often leave the house, take a 30-minute ride each week to keep the battery charged.
  • Make sure all the lights and accessories are off when you first get into your car.
  • When starting your car, turn the key into the “on” position and wait a couple of seconds before cranking the engine.
  • If your engine doesn’t start within 10-15 seconds, stop and rest the engine before trying again.

Contrary to popular belief, AAA Northeast said a car doesn’t need to be warmed up for more than the amount of time it takes for your to put on your seatbelt, adjust the heat and turn on the radio.

AAA Northeast suggests drivers take it slow until heat starts coming from the climate control. By allowing the car to sit and warm up, it’s only warming the engine and not the brakes, suspension or transmission, according to Gugliotta.

Gugliotta warned that drivers whose batteries have needed to be jump started in the past may experience problems when the cold weather hits.

“If you’ve ever needed a jump start, you’re fixing the symptom and not the problem,” Gugliotta explained. “Your battery is never really restored to full power after an incident like that happens, so those are the folks that need to be really mindful of the cold weather.”

For those who own electric vehicles, Gugliotta said cold weather range may be reduced up to 50% in frigid temperatures.

“There are little smart things you can do to keep you battery as fully charged as possible,” she said.

To maximize range in cold weather, Gugliotta suggests the following:

  • Warm the battery while it is plugged in.
  • Warm the vehicle cabin while the car is plugged in.
  • Unplug devices, such as car chargers, to help conserve energy.
  • Seat heaters may be more efficient than the heater, depending on the car.
  • Travel at moderate speeds to conserve energy.

Gugliotta said AAA is fully staffed and stocked with batteries for those who find themselves stranded this weekend.

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