Caring for Your Car in the Cold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Being stranded on the side of the road any time is no fun, but add in below zero temperatures.

"The bitter cold, sometimes the battery will not turn," driver Bill Dobbins said.

Thankfully, Dobbins had AAA for his emergency, but he knows the best service is done before something breaks.

"Preventative maintenance vs. reactionary," Dobbins said.

If you're out in the elements, you first want to make sure your battery is strong.

"The cold weather will pull the juice out just like leaving your lights on overnight," Mechanic Larry Richards said.

If in doubt, a parts store can test it for free.

Next, fill up your tires. Frigid weather causes air to get heavy and shrink, lowering your pressure.

"A low tire. you'll get out there, hit a bump, it's liable to pop it off the bead," Richards said.

Another thing you want to pay attention to is if your doors are frozen shut. If they are, don't just yank on the handle, otherwise it can break. Richards offers an interesting tip.

"You got an extension cord and old fashion hair drier, works wonders," Richards said. "People say pour water. Well, what are you going to do, pour water and it's going to freeze."

Also make sure you have a full gas tank. When temperatures drop, moisture can form in an empty tank which can get in the fuel lines and freeze them.

Finally, once you finally get in, let your car idle for five to ten minutes. This won't just warm you up, but also the parts under the hood.

"That possibly could tear your transition up and burn it up because it's not getting the fluids pumping through it correctly," Richards said.

When heading out, it's important to pack an emergency kit. This could include an extra pair of gloves, a blanket, a flashlight, and some food and water. Also, try to have a fully-charged cell phone to call for help in case of an emergency.

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