HERE’S HOW TO PREVENT COMMON WINTER FREEZE-UPS
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.