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Cold taking toll on cars, too

Cold taking toll on cars, too

This week’s frigid temperatures not only have affected residents of the region, but their cars as we
Cold taking toll on cars, too
AAA Northway Emergency Road Services worker Steven Majewski, jump starts a car on N. Church Street in Schenectady Friday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

This week’s frigid temperatures not only have affected residents of the region, but their cars as well.

According to AAA Northway, the combined hit of slippery roads and dipping mercury worked together Friday to double the normal service calls for an entire day — with the day barely half over.

By 1:30 p.m., AAA Northway had already received 555 calls for service across its 10-county region. The region includes Schenectady, Saratoga and Montgomery counties and points north.

On a typical 24-hour day, AAA receives between 250 and 300 calls, according to Eric Stigberg, spokesman for AAA Northway.

“From our perspective, it’s having a significant impact on the number of emergency road service calls we’re receiving,” Stigberg said.

Most of the calls had to do with the cold affecting car batteries, Stigberg said. There also were calls for tows for cars that slid off the road.

With the increased call volume came increased wait times, Stigberg said. The group tries to get service vehicles to drivers within a half-hour, he said, but on Friday those waits were as long as 90 minutes.

The responses also were ranked based on situation, he said. Drivers who were on the side of the road with no means to stay warm were given priority.

Calls involving dead car batteries are generally because the batteries are old, Stigberg noted. They just don’t do well in cold weather.

When car batteries reach between three and five years old, it’s good to have them checked to ensure they’re still in good working order, he said.

“The cold temperatures, especially extended over a couple days as we’ve seen, can really wreak havoc on a battery’s ability to function,” Stigberg said.

The AAA response vans can test batteries to determine whether a jump-start or new battery is best. The vans also have batteries with them to avoid having to tow the car.

People who aren’t planning on driving should start their car and let it run for a bit to keep the battery charged, but don’t do it in the garage, he said.

In general, drivers should also make sure their windshield washer fluid is filled and cars are completely free of snow.

“It’s not a good idea to give yourself a small peephole out the back window,” Stigberg said.

Making sure cars are completely clear adds to the driver’s safety, as well as the safety of others, he said.

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