A lit­tle pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nace now will go a long way when tem­per­a­tures take a dive


While frost on the pump­kin is a har­bin­ger of the chang­ing sea­sons, it’s also a warn­ing call to mo­torists. Freeze-up time is on its way, and Mother Na­ture loves to wreak havoc with ev­ery­thing that’s sup­posed to move on our ve­hi­cles. The best way to avoid trou­bles — as with most things au­to­mo­tive — is to ap­ply a lit­tle pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance be­fore the mer­cury plum­mets.

Door seals. Th­ese are a peren­nial tar­get of Jack Frost, made even worse as most au­tomak­ers now use a dou­ble seal on their doors for bet­ter sound in­su­la­tion. Th­ese rub­ber and foam seals can drink up wa­ter like a thirsty camel, and will hold a door tight like its welded af­ter some wet weather fol­lowed by a deep and sud­den cold snap. When try­ing to re­lease one of th­ese doors, han­dles can break, seals can tear and in­ter­nal dam­age to latches. To avoid this, all it takes is a quick spray of sil­i­cone lu­bri­cat­ing com­pound on the sur­face of both door seals be­fore the deep freeze hits.

Gas cap doors. Ad­mit it: You’ve chuck­led more than once while watch­ing some hap­less driver try to slap a frozen gas cap door while reach­ing for the re­lease lever in a top-level Twis­ter move. And of course, it will only hap­pen when your fuel tank is suck­ing fumes and you’re late for some far-off ap­point­ment. Again, a quick shot of sil­i­cone spray in ad­vance will avoid this com­pletely. De­pend­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment you drive through, you may have to re­peat this (and the door seal) treat­ment monthly.

Hood re­leases. Th­ese present some unique chal­lenges due to their po­si­tion­ing (right in the line of freez­ing fire) and con­struc­tion (a mix of plas­tic and me­tal). Tech­ni­cians of­ten use a slightly heav­ier lu­bri­cant than a sil­i­cone- or WD40-type spray, usu­ally lithium spray or reg­u­lar axle grease. The prob­lem with denser lu­bri­cants is they tend to col­lect grit and grime, lead­ing to gunk buildup. From time to time, they need to be cleaned off be­fore be­ing lu­bri­cated again. A small, stiff-bris­tled ny­lon brush works well. Lock cylin­ders. This is one group that ev­ery­one with key­less en­try for­gets — un­til they’re greeted with a dead bat­tery on a crisp win­ter morn­ing. Most au­tomak­ers use ei­ther a light dust­ing of graphite pow­der or small dab of white lithium grease when as­sem­bling lock cylin­ders. Ex­ces­sive use of com­mer­cial lock de­icer can wash th­ese sub­stances away, leav­ing you to rely only on the de­icer for un­frozen works. When you get ready for the deep freeze, use only a small squirt of de-icer when treat­ing locks.


The best way to avoid au­to­mo­tive trou­bles this win­ter is to ap­ply a lit­tle pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance.

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