Car care tips for cold weather

Florence, SC - By Alisha Laventure - bio | email

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Cold winter temperatures can cause problems not only for one's health, but the health of one's car. Auto experts are advising drivers to properly winterize their cars so they can withstand the winter weather.

Mechanic Paul Roberts says his body shop typically sees an increase in clientele this time of year. Majority of the repairs could have been less serious or avoided all together had the driver properly the vehicle.

"Antifreeze is number one because it's the life blood of the system," Roberts said. Maintaining proper levels keeps the car's motor running and prevents it from freezing. However, the type of antifreeze one uses on a car is determined by the car's make and model.

By and large, auto experts say green antifreeze is intended for use on cars manufactured prior to 1996. Red antifreeze is tended for use on cars manufactured after 1996. Certain brands require diluting the antifreeze with water before adding it to the car.

Auto experts say you can avoid this by using gold antifreeze, which is compatible will all makes and all models.

"This time of year is not a good time to be walking on the side of the road, or have your [car] hood up," Leon Humbert warns. He says he takes the time to winterize his vehicle each year.

"I can't forget that, because I can't forget the cold!"

Workers at Advance Auto Parts in Florence say antifreeze sales have soared since cold weather set in at the start of the week. "You can spend $10 here today, or $15 dollars for antifreeze or you can spend a $100 to $1000 later for engine repair," salesman Willie Graham.

Auto body workers say the average cost for cold-weather-related repairs starts at around $2000. Here are other ways you can reduce your chances of minimizing cold-weather damage to your car:

  • Battery: inspect the battery terminals for corrosion. Heavy corrosion will stop the electric current from  starting the vehicle.  Use a terminal brush to remove corrosion. Auto experts suggest using this with battery terminal cleaner spray, rather than homemade remedies, such as Coca-Cola or vinegar.
  • Belts: Check the engine belts for cracks. Cracks can eventually cause the belt to break, which will stop the car engine's from running.
  • Hoses:  Ensure engines hoses are not rigid. They are more likely to burst and leak water when rigid. This can burn out the car's engine if not replaced soon after.
  • Tires: inspect the depth of the tire tread. Worn tire tread reduces the tires traction, which is especially dangerous on icy roads.
  • Fuel tank: Do not let the fuel tank level fall below a quarter tank. Also, inspect for moisture in the fluid. This can cause the fuel line to freeze.
  • Engine warm up: Mechanics say a good rule of thumb is to start the engine and wait until the frost melts from the windshield before driving at normal speeds. Most cars manufactured after 2000 only require one to two minutes to sufficiently warm the engine.

Auto body experts advise waiting for the engine to cool before adding liquids and checking the battery. They also suggest wearing gloves to protect from battery acid and other chemicals that may irritate your skin.

"Just make those small provisions and take care of that, and your vehicle will take care of you," Humbert said.

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