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10 Ways to Help Your Car Beat the Winter Weather!

In the US, we know all about severe winters, and in recent years it’s not just the good citizens of Upstate New York, Minnesota or Illinois getting hit with extreme temperatures. The winter of 2013-14 even had Georgians and Floridians reaching for their thermals with temperatures plunging to Temperatures fell to −6 °F (−21 °C), and 35 °F respectively in January 2014. And according to the weather forecast, this winter is likely to be just as bad if not worse than last winter.

One of the side-effects of winter is that it can wreak havoc on your car, especially if it’s parked outside. This can lead to unsafe operating conditions, potential breakdown and unexpected and expensive emergency repairs. To minimize the risk of these, it makes sense to do a thorough vehicle check before the temperatures plummet.

Here are ten ways to to help you beat the big chill this winter:

1. Batteries. Ensure the battery and charging systems are working properly: cold temperatures can affect them negatively.
2. Cooling System. Get the cooling system cleaned and refilled with antifreeze. Generally speaking you should do this every couple of years.
3. Heaters, Defrosters & Wipers. A no-brainer – but it’s fundamental to make sure that heaters, defrosters and wipers are fully functional. Some drivers use winter wiper blades along with cold weather washer fluid. As a rule of thumb wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
4. Tires. Many drivers are technically breaking the law without realizing it because their tire treads are worn out more than the legal maximum. But in the winter with ice and snow making conditions hazardous, it is vitally important that tire treads are checked along with air pressure. The latter should be verified weekly during the winter. If you live an area prone to excessive snow and ice, it may be advisable to consider snow tires and snow chains. Also, if you have a sporty car with summer tires, you should definitely install winter tires. Summer tires rapidly lose traction as temperatures approach freezing, leading to very unsafe operating conditions.
5. Oil and filter need to be changed more frequently during the winter – it’s best to have a professional technician check these. He or she may also recommend the use of winter weight oil if you live in an area susceptible to cold spells. As part of the check-up, he or she should also look at the fuel, air and transmission filters.
6. Tune-ups should be done before the onset of winter enabling any remedial action needed to be performed and bedded in. Poor performance including pings, hard starts and idling are magnified in cold weather.
7. Brakes. And of critical importance – the brakes, as a car’s most important safety feature, simply must be checked to ensure they are in optimum, working order.
8. Exhausts produce carbon monoxide which is highly toxic to humans – and it is often cited as the most common fatal form of air poisoning in many countries. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that the exhaust system is checked for any leaks.
9. Lights. And given the onset of dark, long nights, and overcast days that are a feature of winter, drivers should check all lights are in full working order.
10. Gas Tank. Motorists should avoid the gas tank running empty – it’s advisable to keep it at least half topped up at all times in the winter. This will reduce the risk of moisture forming in the gas lines and potential freezing.

In addition to these tips, it is advisable for drivers to check that “supplies” are actually able to be called on in an emergency. For example, the spare tire should have its air pressure checked. The emergency kit should be checked to ensure that it contains an ice scraper, snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food supplies such as peanuts, and basic medication such as headache pills and bandages.

Posted by: Farra Majid on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at 7:27 am in CARS