Pro tips to pre­pare your ve­hi­cle for win­ter

The Casket - - Local - RICHARD RUS­SELL com­mu­ni­[email protected]

You think get­ting out of bed on a cold win­ter morn­ing is tough? Try look­ing at it from your ve­hi­cle’s per­spec­tive.

Af­ter sit­ting all night filled with flu­ids that get cold and thick as the tem­per­a­ture dropped, your owner ex­pects an old-fash­ioned, lead-acid bat­tery to move cold ro­tat­ing parts in thick oil, while gen­er­at­ing a spark at pre­cisely the right mo­ment to ig­nite a mix­ture of gas and air.

He or she will then ex­pect a blast of nice warm air from the vents to warm the wind­shield and them­selves.

Talk about high ex­pec­ta­tions. If you are nice to your ve­hi­cle, it can do all of th­ese things, re­li­ably. The an­swer lies in prepa­ra­tion. A lit­tle time and ef­fort now will save you a lot of time, grief and money later.

Start with those flu­ids — are you due for an oil change? Is the coolant up to spec? Has it been checked and/or flushed and changed ac­cord­ing to the sched­ule set out by the man­u­fac­turer?

The liq­uid in your cool­ing sys­tem is a mix­ture of flu­ids and ad­di­tives de­signed to not only re­sist freez­ing in the win­ter, but act as a lu­bri­cant for a num­ber of com­po­nents year-round, as it cir­cu­lates through the sys­tem.

To en­sure it re­tains all of th­ese crit­i­cal prop­er­ties, it should be changed and the sys­tem flushed out ev­ery few years. The hoses that carry the coolant to/ from the en­gine, the belts that op­er­ate var­i­ous pumps and the caps that keep the flu­ids in place, should also be checked thor­oughly.

This is also a good time to check the wind­shield washer con­tainer to en­sure it is full of a proper mix­ture to avoid freez­ing. If most of what is in that con­tainer is wa­ter it will freeze as the tem­per­a­ture drops, and likely “blow” a hose or fit­ting. While you are at it — check out the washer noz­zles to make sure they haven’t be­come blocked by wax or some­thing else.

How about your wipers? Have they been changed since they scraped across that frost and ice last win­ter? How about a new set of proper win­ter blades de­signed to with­stand the rigours and low tem­per­a­tures of the com­ing sea­son? And while we are on the topic of rub­ber — take a mo­ment and a clean cloth soaked in a sil­i­cone-like fluid to wipe off all the seals around the doors; that will help them to pre­vent mois­ture from ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and avoid doors be­ing frozen shut and give you the chance to see if any have been dam­aged.

The most com­mon prob­lem for mo­torists in win­ter is bat­tery fail­ure. The elec­tric cur­rent gen­er­ated by bat­ter­ies is the re­sult of a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion and as the tem­per­a­ture drops so does the speed of this re­ac­tion. A warm bat­tery can more read­ily pro­duce the cur­rent nec­es­sary to meet de­mand.

To save weight, and cost, the bat­ter­ies in to­day’s ve­hi­cles are smaller than they used to be. Com­bine this with ex­treme heat un­der the hood, and the con­tin­ual de­mand from so many more elec­tric de­vices, and bat­ter­ies start to fail af­ter three or four years.

The abil­ity of your ve­hi­cle to steer, stop and go is en­tirely de­pen­dent on the tires. Don’t wait un­til that first snow­fall or de­pend on old tires – have a set of mod­ern win­ter tires in­stalled in ad­vance. That also pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to have a tech­ni­cian check the brakes to make sure they are in good shape and work­ing as de­signed.

While un­der the ve­hi­cle they can also check for any ex­haust leaks that could al­low car­bon monox­ide to en­ter the in­te­rior.


A lit­tle time and ef­fort pre­par­ing your ve­hi­cle now for win­ter could save you a lot of time, grief and money later.

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