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AAA Michigan Tips Will Help Keep You on Road in Frigid Weather

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 22, 2004 -- Preparing now for freezing temperatures and snow predicted across the state tonight and tomorrow will help keep your vehicle on the road, advises AAA Michigan.

Motorists can help keep their vehicles on the road by doing the following:

* Faulty batteries cause more car starting problems than any other factor. At 0 degrees, a good battery has 35 percent less starting power than in summer. At minus 20, battery power drops 50 percent. If your battery is more than three years old, have a load test performed at most auto supply stores.

* Park your car in the garage. If you have no garage, put a tarp over the hood or park protected from prevailing winds. To keep doors from freezing shut, place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame.

* Keep the fuel tank at least half-full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up.

* To avoid frozen door locks, buy a lubricant available in most auto supply stores. If your lock freezes, heat your key with a pocket lighter but remember to wear gloves or hold the key with pliers. Or, fill a plastic jug with hot water. Hold it against the door panel or lock area. Do not throw hot water on the car. It, too, will freeze and you run the risk of cracking glass.

* If you become snowbound, stay with your vehicle. It provides excellent shelter from the cold and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. If you can start your engine, run it only enough to keep warm. Make sure the exhaust pipe is kept snow-free.

* Keep emergency supplies in the car, such as a cell phone, jumper cables, boots, hats, traction mats or kitty litter to place under wheels, gloves, blankets, a "coffee can heater," flashlight and reflective warning triangle.

AAA and the Michigan Towing Association remind motorists to give tow truck operators a "brake." They're there to help you. Drive with care when a tow truck's there.