AAA is reminding motorists that October is a great time to get the car winter-ready.

AAA MidAtlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble said during the summer, the car club responded to 35,700 calls for battery service in New Jersey. That's an increase of 8% compared to the summer of 2019.

That's because as a result of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive stay-at-home order during many months of the pandemic, more people are working from home and kids are doing virtual learning. Therefore, motorists are logging far fewer miles and vehicles are sitting idle for longer periods of time. When they go to start up their cars now, they realize their battery is dead and it either needs to be jumpstarted or replaced all together.

Noble said to watch for the following warning signs a car may need a new battery:

  • If the starter motor cranks the engine slowly or if the battery warning lamp icon illuminates on the dashboard, those can be signs it's time to get a new battery.
  • In older model cars, dim headlights or dim interior lights, especially when the car is idling, indicate a weak battery.

Inspect the brakes as recommended in the owner's manual or sooner if the driver notices pulsations, pulling or noises while braking.

Change the oil regularly and make sure tires are properly inflated.

Rather than do all this yourself, it may be wise to take the vehicle to a reputable repair shop.

Besides giving the car a maintenance makeover before the winter, Noble also suggested updating the car's winter emergency car kit with flashlights with working batteries, blankets, extra water and non-perishable food just in case you're stranded.

It's also a good idea to keep reflective triangles or flares in the trunk in the event the driver has to alert passing cars of trouble.