How to prepare your car for cold temperatures

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 4:14 PM EST
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Maine (WABI) - Many of us are not fans of this cold weather and neither are our vehicles.

Extremely cold weather like we’re going to see can effect your car even though it may be working fine in normal weather.

AAA expects calls for help this weekend will be mostly tire, battery, and gasoline related.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.

Pressures typically decrease one PSI or every 10 degree drop in outside temperature.

Be sure to top off your gas tank and windshield fluid.

Experts say it’s not a good idea to run your car in the winter with less than a half tank of gas.

“If you have a remote starter on your phone or key fob, it’s a good thing to use to allow your car to run for at least ten minutes and if you have the opportunity to hop out and start the car and let it go for another ten minutes longer, it probably would be a good idea to do that” said Stanley Subaru sales consultant, Jordan Stanwood.

“When we have a stretch of two or three days where it is below 30 subzero or around that subzero degrees, it really increases the likelihood that your battery can continue to deplete overtime so it’s good practice to get out there, run it for 15 or 20 minutes and drive it,” said Pat Moody Manager of Public Affairs for AAA Northern New England. Drive around the block. Get it acclimated to charge up that battery.”

When it comes to putting your car away at night, AAA suggests turning off the radio, your windshield wipers, your heater, anything that could possibly drain the battery.

You want the battery focused on starting the car instead of doing anything else that’s not important to starting the vehicle.

Tire pressures typically decrease one PSI for every 10-degree drop in outside temperature, AAA...
Tire pressures typically decrease one PSI for every 10-degree drop in outside temperature, AAA says.(AAA)

Here are some more tips from AAA:


  • At 0° F a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength. Even at 32° F, it is 35 percent weaker than normal. Have a qualified automotive technician perform a load test on your battery to make sure it’s strong enough for winter.
  • Automobile batteries have an average life span of 3-5 years. Have your battery and charging system tested by your trusted technician to ensure they are ready for the challenge.
  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections with battery terminal cleaner.


  • Keep your gas tank at least half full in freezing conditions. This reduces condensation in the fuel system and ensures you have adequate reserves to run the engine for heat in an emergency.

Tire Pressure

  • Tire Pressure - Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare more frequently during colder temperatures. Don’t be surprised if your dashboard warns you that your tire pressure needs to be addressed. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb.

Winter Safety Kit

  • Winter Safety Kit - Have a winter emergency kit prepared in your vehicle that includes; first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, shovel, blanket, traction aides such as kitty litter and a ice scrapper. 40% of American drivers told AAA they do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle.

Warming Up

  • With newer vehicles “warming up the car” might not be a necessary requirement from a mechanical standpoint but from a driver comfort and safety standpoint …it is key. Warming up your car allows for the motorist to shed restricting clothing. Boots, gloves, hats and heavy jackets may restrict movement make operating the car more challenging. Warming up the car also helps clear ice and condensation from the windows.