With the polar vortex in full force, drivers might find themselves stranded due to a dead battery and there is nothing worse than trying to get a car to work in cold temperatures.

The Alberta Motor Association has been experiencing up to 300% more service calls since this cold snap, but a lot of the problems that people call in for are completely preventable. Ryan Lemont, Manager of the fleet for AMA says that “Almost half of the calls we’re responding to are battery related.”

Lemont explains, “We conducted a survey, just before the end of the year, and we found that 72% of Albertans don’t plug in their vehicles at the recommended -15-degree temperatures,” and added, “even about 34% are saying they don’t plug in because their vehicles never had a problem in the cold temperature.”

Never having a problem in cold temperatures seems to make some people operate based on luck they’ve experienced in the past, but the cold is very hard on a vehicle.

However, there are some misconceptions involved with plugging in a vehicle. Some people may believe that plugging in a vehicle ‘charges the battery’ but that is simply not the case.

“I always want to recommend plugging in your vehicle, it doesn’t draw as much power from your battery, makes it easier to start, and the fluids are warmed up. When it gets cold like this the oil can become very viscous, so it becomes tough to turn a vehicle over by plugging it in. It keeps everything warm inside and creates less draw from your battery when you go to start it.”

Lemont also recommends checking your battery every 3-5 years in Alberta because there are such extreme temperatures of both cold and warm. Plugging in for about 4 hours will get your fluids to the optimal temperature but won’t charge the battery. So, plugging in a car with a dead battery will not help you out that much.

Additionally, another common myth is that we need to warm up our cars for at least 10-15 minutes in the cold but that’s not exactly true either. We may want to them to be nice and cozy when we get in, but the benefit is only that the temperature inside the car is a little warmer.

“Typically, when those engines are idling it’s in a gasoline rich environment, so it promotes deposits on your engine, pistons, and cylinder wall. To avoid that, start up your vehicle let it run for about 30 seconds to about 2 minutes and once you start driving because now you will have a load on the engine it will actually warm up the vehicle faster,” says Lemont.

Overall, to save some time and unnecessary stress be sure to plug in Alberta!

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