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Burst of extreme cold affecting vehicles, causing busier than usual season for CAA

Photo Courtesy of CAA.

The extreme cold may be making you shiver, but it’s also probably affecting your vehicle.

Nadia Matos with CAA South Central Ontario says this latest burst of record-breaking arctic air has kept them busy.

“Southern Ontario hasn’t seen temperatures like this in 57 years or more, and safety is paramount for CAA. So right now, we’re prioritizing all of our members that are on the side of the roads and out in the elements. In the last few days though, we answered over 15,000 calls. That is well above and beyond what we normally respond to on a winter’s day.”

Matos says calls for service do tend to increase during cold spells, specifically when it comes to cars that simply won’t start.

“A weak battery loses about 35 per cent of its power when the temperature hovers just around 0 degrees. As we know over the last few days, we’ve been a lot colder than that, so of course batteries are going to go. There’s nothing worse than going to start your car, and the battery’s dead.”

Matos says there are some tips you can keep in mind though.

“We tell people to give their battery a chance – so before you attempt to start your car, make sure that you have turned off all your accessories – like heater, radio, and lights. That will give your battery a chance to focus on just getting your engine running. The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years, so driving conditions and weather can actually shorten that lifespan.”

Matos says if your car is making a strange noise, cranking slowly when you try to start it, and if it’s previously stalled – these are all good indicators that you need to replace your battery.

“Another is if you find your headlights are dimming when you’re idling, but brightening when you rev your engine – that means it’s time to replace it.”

Cold weather also affects your tire pressure, fluids including engine oil, and windshield wipers.

“If you do want to clean your windshield wipers — do not ever use hot water, as it can crack the glass. We suggest using vinegar and a bit of water to help prevent an icy window — and that’s ahead of a big ice storm.”

You can see more vehicle maintenance and winter driving tips by clicking here.