Known among thieves as “puffers,” these idling autos are easy to spot by their puffing exhaust fumes and even easier to steal.
“All a thief has to do is hop in and drive away. It’s even warmed up for them,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Today’s late model vehicles are protected by sophisticated anti-theft technology. But all the technology in the world is worthless when someone leaves their car unlocked and running with the keys in the ignition.”
To avoid falling victim to “puffer theft,” motorists should keep their cars locked while warming them up, even in their own driveways
Stolen autos aren’t the only cold-weather calamities facing New Jersey motorists as winter sets in.
“When temperatures plummet roadside emergencies and the risk of traffic crashes soar,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “From dead batteries to treacherous driving conditions, the cold weather brings increased risks to drivers.”
“No one wants to be involved in a crash or have their car to break down in any season, but in frigid weather the odds are higher and the consequences can be more serious,” said Col. Fuentes. “Being stranded outside in the bitter cold can be fatal.”
Simple steps taken now will prepare your car for the big chill headed this way:
Check the battery – As temperatures drop, your battery has to work harder to start the engine. Make sure your battery is up to the task by having it tested at a service station, auto parts store, or repair shop. Unplug cell phones and other electronic devices from the car’s cigarette lighter socket to avoid sapping battery power.
Replace wiper blades – Maximum visibility during hazardous winter driving is crucial. If you’re blades are leaving residue on your windshield, you’re at risk.
Keep windshield-washer reservoirs filled – A winter-blend washer solution with an antifreeze agent is crucial to keep your windshield free of the dirt, mud, and salt residue kicked up from messy roads.
Even the best-maintained vehicles can’t guarantee safe travels in the face of icy roads and blizzard conditions. To improve your odds off staying safe:
Plan ahead before traveling – Check road conditions and weather forecasts, especially before long trips. Avoid driving in dangerous conditions.
If you must venture out, drive with extra caution: Reduce speed, beware of black ice, and avoid tailgating.
Keep your gas tank full, even in hybrid vehicles – Being stuck in a wintery traffic jam or stranded on a snowy roadside might require more fuel than you anticipated to get home.