How to properly care for your car in the winter

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — With temperatures dropping below zero, local tow companies are getting lots of calls to jumpstart cars.

Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs at AAA, said most of their winter calls are before people even get on the road.

“It’s simply their car not starting because their battery has died or because the temperature has dropped down to below zero and affected their battery’s ability to turn over,” he said.

Jarmusz said the average battery lifespan is six years.

“So if it’s more than four years old, it’s a good idea to get it checked out ahead of time because there’s really no indication beforehand,” he said.

Donnie Stanton, owner of Mr. Tow-Its Wrecker Service in Peoria, said a good set of tires are essential for making it through the winter. He said a set of tires will last about 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

“I think the first thing they need to do is make sure they got tires. We’ve towed a lot of cars where the tires are just bad. If you don’t get traction, you’re not going to stay on the roadway,” he said.

Jarmusz said an easy way to figure out if a new tire is needed is by measuring the tread using a penny or quarter.

“[Stick it] head first in and if you can still see the hairline of President Lincoln or President Washington, then you know that you know you don’t have enough tread depth and that you’re going to need to get new tires,” he said.

Keeping an eye on tire pressure is also important. Stanton said tire pressure decreases a couple of pounds for every 10-degree drop in temperature.

“But just losing even five or six pounds can significantly decrease your fuel efficiency as well as the traction that your tires get on the road, which would impact your stopping ability and your maneuvering ability,” he warned.

Brett Beacher, vice president of Beachler’s Vehicle Care and Repair in Peoria, said prevention is key.

“I really think it boils down to if people take care of their cars, have a reputable shop that takes care of their car. They’re going to reduce their chances of breaking down, that car not starting,” he said.

Stanton also pleaded for people to go around tow trucks when they see them. He said a tow driver is killed every six days.

“That’s more than policemen and firemen combined. People need to remember we’re going away from our families to help somebody’s else family. Just give us the room. If you see a tow truck on the side of the road, scoot over,” he said.

Scott’s Law requires drivers to change lanes or slow down when they see first responders, including tow drivers, on the side of the road.

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