This week's cold snap that has brought subzero temperatures and bitter wind chills to the region has resulted in a record number of roadside assistance calls to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Andreas Rentz, Getty Images+

On Feb. 16, AAA Mid-Atlantic's emergency roadside assistance calls, which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, topped 12,000, the highest one-day call volume on record. The auto club responded to 5,706 battery-related calls, also a single-day record, which accounted for 47 percent of calls.

In New Jersey alone, there were 1,603 calls for dead batteries, 1,164 calls for tows and 337 calls for flat tires. So far this month, there have been 26,245 calls in New Jersey, 8,216 of which were for dead batteries.

"It is always busy this time of year, but these frigid temperatures really put everyone's batteries to the test," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "If your battery is three to five years old, we recommend having it checked or replaced. We have our fleet drivers out, we have our contract drivers out and it has been non-stop activity."

According to AAA's Automotive Research Center, at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a car's battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, and it loses 35 percent of its strength at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  In addition, starting an engine in cold temperatures can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions.

Warning signs that you are at risk for a battery related breakdown include the following:

  • Hearing a grinding or clicking sound when you turn on the ignition;
  • Your vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start;
  • Your headlights dim when idling, but brighten when the engine is revved;
  • Your battery is more than three years old.

The bitter cold is expected to continue throughout the week, so drivers should also make sure their vehicles have plenty of antifreeze and windshield washer fluid as well.

"It also is important for drivers to keep an emergency kit in the trunk as a precaution. Careful preparation is the key to weathering the winter months," Noble said.

AAA Car Care, Insurance and Travel Centers across the state are offering free battery checks until further notice for members and non-members. Anyone interested in having a battery checked can stop by the following locations:

  • East Brunswick - 260 Rte. 18 North, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
  • Eatontown - 251 Rte. 35, Eatontown, NJ 07724
  • Middletown - 889 Rte. 35, Middletown, NJ 07748
  • Mount Laurel - 4010 Dearborn Circle, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
  • Toms River - 1199 Rte. 37, Toms River, NJ 08753