Five hacks you should avoid this win­ter

Think twice about these tricks, whether it’s us­ing hot water to de­frost parts of your car or putting some ex­tra weight in your trunk

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - DRIVING.CA - BRIAN TURNER

As much as we to get started on our daily com­mutes, there are a few short­cuts you want to avoid in win­ter, as they sel­dom pro­vide the de­sired outcome. If you want to save time, avoid these mis­takes.

De­frost­ing any­thing frozen on your ve­hi­cle with hot water — or any tem­per­a­ture, for that mat­ter. If it’s parked out­side, frozen and was built within the last decade or so, adding water to a frozen any­thing on your car will sim­ply com­pound your trou­bles. Wind­shields, trim pieces, win­dow seals, wiper blades and arms can all crack. If you’re ex­tremely lucky and noth­ing cracks or breaks due to the tem­per­a­ture shock, water will then likely in­trude into ar­eas where it will cause other things to freeze and take for­ever to thaw. In­stead, use your car’s heat­ing sys­tem to let the ice loosen from the un­der­side.

Leave the lighter in your pocket for frozen door locks. Re­mem­ber the old “heat up your key with a lighter” trick to get a frozen lock cylin­der to turn? If your key has an em­bed­ded im­mo­bi­lizer or re­mote en­try fob but­tons, as most do, you might want to leave that trick up your sleeve. If you ap­ply too much heat to the tip, you even risk dam­ag­ing in­ter­nal elec­tron­ics. A blow dryer is the safest method.

If a lit­tle lube makes things bet­ter, a whole lot will solve any­thing. Not true. First, you get a mess from drips and stains. More im­por­tantly, too much goop will sim­ply at­tract more grit and grime, thus mak­ing the prob­lem worse.

Ex­tra weight is noth­ing to shed when the white stuff piles up. Adding trac­tion weight to a ve­hi­cle is fraught with risks — too much weight placed be­hind the rear axle can lessen the grip of the front wheels, thus re­duc­ing over­all grip and per­for­mance. Fail to se­cure heavy ob­jects in an open cabin, such as in mini­van or SUV, and you’ve got lethal pro­jec­tiles in a col­li­sion or rollover. If your ride re­ally needs any ex­tra bal­last, keep the fuel tank filled.

If your bat­tery charger has a fullpower setting, don’t turn it all the way up for a quicker recharge. Or, if it needs a boost, don’t find the ve­hi­cle with the big­gest en­gine and let it rev. Not so fast — when try­ing to coax a dis­charged bat­tery back to life in cold weather, push­ing high volt­age in can dam­age cells and con­nec­tors. If you’re us­ing an ad­justable bat­tery charger, leave it set on medium to low set­tings for a few hours, rather than shock­ing it into life. Be aware that when boost­ing from an­other run­ning ve­hi­cle, their al­ter­na­tors have no power out­put ad­just­ment and will push full volts and their max­i­mum am­per­age rat­ings as soon as the last ca­ble con­nec­tion is made. If the bat­tery is frozen or close to it, this can re­sult in cell dam­age. Check the bat­tery’s cas­ing for any bulges that may in­di­cate frozen liq­uid elec­trolyte. The bat­tery may need to be re­moved and brought into a heated area to at­tempt a recharge and load test. Any se­vere bulging usu­ally in­di­cates a bat­tery that must be re­placed.

GETTy ImaGEs/iS­tock­photo

Some old tricks for deal­ing with win­ter-re­lated au­to­mo­tive trou­ble can do more harm than good.

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