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AA reminds motorists to 'take care' this winter

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

As winter continues to make its presence felt throughout the country, the AA is reminding Kiwis to keep themselves safe by driving to the conditions and staying on top of vehicle maintenance.

In June nearly half of all AA Roadservice callouts received related to battery trouble. AA Motoring Services General Manager Jonathan Sergel says the weather in winter is tough on vehicles and plummeting temperatures wreak havoc on batteries.

"Batteries are less efficient and have to work harder to start when it’s cold so if a battery is old or in poor condition there’s a strong chance when the temperature drops the battery will fail. We also tend to use our lights, wipers and heaters more often in winter which further increases the demand on the battery."

To reduce the chance of getting caught out by flat battery this winter, here are a few steps you can take.

Try to protect your car from the cold - park in a garage, close to your house or somewhere sheltered from the elements.

Allow the battery to ’juice up’ before and after use of the car - if you don’t drive daily or mainly use your car for short trips, let it warm up for a few minutes before turning on the heater, radio, wipers and lights. Remember to turn these off before shutting down the engine at the end of the day. This will reduce the load on the battery and provide an opportunity for it to charge fully.

Keep your battery and connections clean - regularly use warm water, baking soda and a wire brush to remove corrosion and boost battery life.

Listen for early warning sounds - a slow cranking or clicking sound is a sure sign your battery is on the way out. Remember to not force a weak battery by continuing to crank the engine as this can damage your car.

Get your battery checked - while you have time on your hands check your battery’s state of health. AA Auto Centres offer battery tests which will check it’s in good working order.

While battery issues are prevalent in winter, they are not the only challenge road users face. With weather extremes heightening vehicle issues and creating difficult conditions, the AA encourages Kiwis to take care.

"With the days darker and more rain, fog, ice and even sunstrike to contend with, visibility is often poor and extra caution is advised," says Jonathan.

"Always turn on your lights if it’s raining but keep them dipped when in foggy conditions and be extra vigilant that they’re working and are free from dirt.

"Be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists. If you’re heading out on foot or two wheels wear light-coloured or his vis clothing and use lights to make sure you are easily seen.

"Keep windscreens clean and replace wipers if they’re causing smears. Top up windscreen wash, ideally with an anti-freeze product if you live somewhere prone to ice and have a plastic ice scraper handy.

"If conditions are icy, remember to reduce your speed, increase your following distance and drive gently avoiding sudden movements. And if there’s snow, make sure you have the correct chains fitted.

"And no matter the conditions, rain, shine or snow, your tyres need to be up to the job. That means adequate tyre tread and pressure. Worn and under or over-inflated tyres won’t grip the road well placing you at greater risk, so be sure to look before setting off."

Car owners who want to make sure their car is set for winter, and are in between a service or WoF, can consider booking an AA 10-Point Check. Available at AA Auto Centres, Vehicle Testing or Vehicle Inspection sites, it covers a 12V battery test and checks the engine oil, wipers, tyre condition and more.

AA Members are entitled to two free 10-point vehicle checks each year (non-Member price is $19 per check).

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