Baby, it's cold outside, and that means motorists should take precautions to ensure they safely make it home — or wherever they're headed — for the holidays.
Among the 84.4 million travelers projected to hit the highways between Wednesday and Jan. 2, AAA anticipates it will come to the assistance of 1.2 million motorists. Forecasted problems include 288,000 dead batteries, 198,000 lockouts, 166,000 tire changes and more than 21,000 extrications from snow. The nation's largest motor club estimates it will be able to help three out of five stranded motorists right from the roadside, but the other two will have to be towed away for repairs.
Many of these problems can be avoided by performing a few routine maintenance activities.
"Whether you are staying local or planning a long-distance trip, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for holiday driving will help ensure it gets you and your loved ones to your destination safely and without incident," AAA spokesman Marshall L. Doney said in a statement.
AAA's pre-travel safety and maintenance checklist includes:
Checking antifreeze; use an equal mixture of coolant and water.
Replacing windshield-wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking, and filling the windshield-wiper reservoir with winter detergent fluid.
Keeping tires at the manufacturer's recommended pressure; that info is found on the driver-side door jamb.
Making sure the battery is secure, and cleaning away corrosion to it or its cable connections; motorists should also have their cars' batteries tested before cold weather hits.
Replacing accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed and hoses that are worn, brittle, bulging, excessively soft or leaky.
Having a certified technician check fluid levels, lights, brakes, the exhaust system and the heater/defroster.
Updating vehicles' emergency roadside kit for winter to contain a cellphone and car charger; blankets; flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; a windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.