Bone-chilling temperatures gripped southern Ontario during this past winter – one of the longest and coldest in 20 years. Parts of the province plunged into a deep freeze and ‘polar vortex’ made its way in to everyday conversations.

Before the deep freeze returns this year, remember to have your car battery tested by a professional to make sure it is ready to face another frigid winter.

“The harsh winter temperatures can drain the power from your vehicle’s battery,” said Silvana Aceto, Communications Consultant, CAA SCO. “Before you try to start your car, make sure you have turned off all your accessories including the heater, radio and lights.”

The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, weather and lack of care can shorten it.

Here are some warning signs that your battery may need to be replaced:

  • Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start.
  • You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition on.
  • Your vehicle has previously stalled.
  • Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine.

Drivers can help avoid breakdowns by keeping their vehicle properly maintained throughout the year. But if you end up stranded on a busy highway it’s important to know what to do in an emergency situation:

  • Stay calm and pull off the road safely.
  • Remember your vehicle’s location. This will come in handy when calling for help.
  • If you must get out of your vehicle, exit from the side away from moving traffic.
  • Never stand behind or directly in front of your vehicle, as you are at risk of being struck by drivers who might not see you.
  • If you CANNOT pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers. Call 9-1-1 for help.