Virginia drivers experiencing dead car batteries due to extreme cold weather

(NBC News)
(NBC News) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE, Va. – With extreme cold in the mid-Atlantic, many Virginia driver's are experiencing car troubles this week.

In fact, AAA reports they have received 173 calls as of 11 a.m. Thursday due to dead car batteries, according to Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA. 

As assistance crews fight to keep up, total number of calls have risen 37 percent. 

The following signs can help drivers determine when they are at risk for a battery related breakdown: 

  • You hear a grinding or clicking sound when you turn on the ignition
  • Your vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start
  • Your headlights dim when idling but brighten when the engine is revved
  • Your battery is more than three years old

During cold temperatures, starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, and at 32 degrees, it loses 35 percent.   

What can drivers do to ensure their batteries are strong enough to withstand cold winter temperatures?

  • Park your car in a garage whenever possible. The less frigid the air is around your car, the better for your battery.
  • Turn off your lights, wipers and heater before you turn off your engine to prevent an unnecessary drain on the battery the next time you start your car.
  • Unplug phone chargers and USB cables as soon as you turn off your engine. These can also drain your battery.

Another caution drivers can take is to contact your insurance company to see if you can get a battery checkA simple battery check can tell how much life your battery has left and if it’s strong enough to make in through the winter months.