Pre­pare ve­hi­cles for harsh weather

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - AUTOMOTIVE -

As the sea­sons change, mo­torists must take steps to safe­guard their ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially when the sea­son changes from fall to win­ter. Each win­ter, many ve­hi­cles are sub­jected to sub-zero tem­per­a­tures, snow­fall and icy roads, and such con­di­tions can take their toll on ve­hi­cles over time. Tak­ing steps to pre­pare ve­hi­cles for win­ter weather is a vi­tal step that can make cars and trucks safer for driv­ers and their pas­sen­gers.

Bat­tery

Old bat­ter­ies should be re­placed be­fore win­ter be­gins. With­out a strong, prop­erly func­tion­ing bat­tery, en­gines can­not turn over. Most bat­ter­ies last be­tween three and five years. How­ever, ex­treme cold can com­pro­mise bat­ter­ies, es­pe­cially those that have been around awhile. Bat­ter­ies are made up of acid and wa­ter, and cold tem­per­a­tures can freeze the wa­ter, thereby af­fect­ing bat­tery per­for­mance. Ac­cord­ing to AAA’s Au­to­mo­tive Re­search Cen­ter, at 32 F, the av­er­age bat­tery loses 35 per­cent of its strength.

Newer bat­ter­ies can be pro­tected by start­ing the ve­hi­cle each day to warm up and recharge the bat­tery. Let the car run for at least 10 min­utes if you can­not take an ex­tended drive.

Ex­te­rior main­te­nance

Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help main­tain a durable ex­te­rior fin­ish. This in­cludes not only the paint, but the rub­ber and vinyl parts of the car’s ex­te­rior.

Win­ter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty syn­thetic wax that can shield against wa­ter and road salts. High-qual­ity sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rub­ber door seals as added pro­tec­tion. Speak with an au­to­mo­tive re­tailer or even the car deal­er­ship if you are un­sure which prod­ucts will make your car’s parts most durable for win­ter weather.

Do not stop wash­ing your car just be­cause the weather is cold. Slushy, wet roads and snow-melt­ing salts can speed up the for­ma­tion of rust or other de­cay on the un­der­car­riage of the ve­hi­cle. These ma­te­ri­als will need to be pe­ri­od­i­cally cleaned off. Flush the un­der­side of the ve­hi­cle when­ever pos­si­ble, tak­ing ad­van­tage of any dry, slightly warmer days.

Tire pres­sure

Ac­cord­ing to the au­to­mo­tive re­tailer Pep Boys, ve­hi­cle tires lose a pound of air pres­sure for ev­ery 10-de­gree drop in tem­per­a­ture. Many mod­ern cars will alert to changes in air pres­sure, and driv­ers should be dili­gent in main­tain­ing the proper tire pres­sure. Fuel econ­omy as well as han­dling abil­ity can de­cline when tires are not in­flated prop­erly. Tires can be re­filled at many gas sta­tions for lit­tle cost.

Wipers

Vis­i­bil­ity is key in haz­ardous weather con­di­tions, and keeping the wind­shield clean is a pri­or­ity. This means en­sur­ing there is enough wind­shield wiper fluid in the car and that it is a prod­uct that will not freeze.

Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the win­ter. Older blades may be more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age. It’s a wor­thy in­vest­ment to re­place ex­ist­ing wiper blades at the start of each win­ter. When ve­hi­cles are parked, pull the wipers off of the wind­shield to safe­guard them from stick­ing and crack­ing.

Cold weather re­quires driv­ers to amp up their ve­hi­cle main­te­nance rou­tines. Con­sult with a me­chanic or au­to­mo­tive re­tailer for more ideas and prod­ucts that can help your ve­hi­cles op­er­ate safely and ef­fi­ciently this win­ter.

Metro Creative

METRO CREATIVE

Re­place ex­ist­ing wiper blades at the be­gin­ning of each win­ter so driver vis­i­bil­ity is not com­pro­mised.

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