Bitter cold can wreak havoc on car batteries, tires

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Tuesday night's subzero temperatures could mean problems with your car, but there are some things that you can do to keep your vehicle running in even the most severe winter weather.

At Ashland Tire and Auto Club in Lakeview mechanics are busy making repairs to cars that are casualties of the bitter cold.

The drop in temperatures can accelerate slow leaks in tires and many customers came in needing a new set of wheels.

"Last year with the polar vortex, I had car issues all winter long, which required a new battery," said Michael Kerrigan.

Dead batteries are also a problem in zero-degree weather, as they have 35 percent less starting power, especially if they're old.

"The average lifetime of a battery in our market is about four and a half years," said Jack Gordon, Ashland Tire and Auto Club.

Which is exactly how long Faye Wang's battery lasted. The cold got to it Tuesday morning and she couldn't get around to her errands.

"You have a plan for the day and battery is out and it ruins your day," she said.

Experts say there are some steps you can take to get your car winter-ready:

  • Get your battery checked out.

  • Top off your fluids, like coolant and windsheld wiper fluid.

  • Fill your gas tank.

  • Switch to a thinner engine oil.


If your car has all-wheel drive, experts say that will give you good traction, but it won't prevent you from slipping on icy roads, so it's still important to drive at a safe speed.

"With all of the latest technology it doesn't help them stop on ice so people need to slow down out there, AAA's Beth Mosher said.

Should you slide off the road and get stuck, experts also advise keeping a blanket, hat and gloves in the car, as well as a flashlight. All tips to keep you safe and your car on the road all season.

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