Don’t Be One of the Million Motorists Stranded this Holiday Season!

winter car won't start

Years ago, my good friend, Tim, mistakenly locked the keys to his 1991 Audi 200 in the trunk while we were on our way back to Connecticut after a weekend of skiing. During the dead of night, with snow on the ground and our only sustenance coming from the assorted snacks picked up at a country store a few miles back, we waited in a parking lot for a AAA problem-solver to arrive. A flood light projected its beam upon a nearby furniture store’s sign, and at one point we found ourselves huddled around it, trying to take in any of the heat emitting from its bulb (there wasn’t much). Eventually AAA rescued us and while Tim and I are friends to this day, it’s a wonder he wasn’t left on the side of the road for this mistake.

Fast-forward to this weekend: You’re bundled up, sitting next to the fire, hot cocoa in hand and perhaps a beautifully decorated tree behind you. Few moments can compete with the warmth and comfort resonating from the holidays. But have you considered that, while you’re enjoying the Christmas spirit, your car is shivering outside in the cold, just like Tim and I were?

This holiday season is expected to be one of the biggest travel periods of the year, with AAA estimating over 100 million will be on the move during an 11-day stretch. AAA’s business revolves around assisting sidelined travelers and, with the holidays’ expected level of activity this year, business should be booming.

The Car Doctor himself, AAA’s John Paul, commented on the auto club’s expectations, saying that “AAA across the country expects to rescue almost one million motorists over the 11 day holiday travel period. The primary reasons are dead batteries, flat tires and people who lock their keys in their cars…Check tires on a regular basis for both air pressure and wear and always check you have your keys in your hand before locking your car or closing the trunk.”

I am eager to attest to the latter’s importance.

Across the Atlantic, the United Kingdom’s Automobile Association predicted last year that the Monday morning following New Year’s Day, more motorists would be greeted by cars refusing to start than on any other day of the year. Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to make sure you don’t wake up to a dead battery after the holidays. From John Paul: “To avoid being one of these motorists, have your car’s battery checked if it is more than 3 years old—the typical life of a battery is 3-5 years depending where you live.”

The cold temperatures up north will accelerate your batteries demise but even if you’re enjoying a palm-tree Christmas, be sure to have your car battery’s age checked as you’re wrapping up your last-minute shopping. It’s easy to enjoy a few days off for the holidays, but extending that vacation because of a car that won’t start the next morning isn’t exactly beginning a new year on the right foot.

Thanks for another great year. Enjoy the holidays and drive safely!

-Matt Smith

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