Maintenance tips to help keep your car on the go this winter


WinterCarCare.jpg In most parts of the country, including Kansas, winter can be the harshest time of year for your vehicle, so its important to take care of it both inside and out. Freezing temperatures, road salt, slush and snow can wreak havoc on all vehicle parts and systems.

Keeping everything in tune can mean the difference between a safe, smooth ride and a trip to the repair shop. The car care experts recommend the following tips for keeping your vehicle running and safe on the road through the cold winter months:

n Check your antifreeze/ coolant. Antifreeze helps control the temperature of a vehicle?s engine. Since it remains liquid and does not freeze in cold temperatures, antifreeze also helps protect the engine during extreme cold starts.

Servicing your vehicle?s cooling system according to your vehicle manufacturer?s recommendations can help you avoid costly repairs down the line.

Check your owner?s manual for how often it should be replaced.

n Watch the wiper blades. The normal life expectancy for most windshield wiper blades is six to 12 months. Check and clean the windshield wiper blades or replace them if necessary.

Checking and replacing them as needed can improve visibility to help avoid a very dangerous situation on the road?particularly in snowy and stormy conditions.

n Make sure the battery is strong. A weak battery is less reliable and can take longer to start your car on cold mornings. In fact, a weak battery could lose about one third of its power or more in colder conditions (e.g. below 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

Make sure the connections are tight and free of corrosion and have your battery tested to ensure it has ample power to withstand the cold.

Start the car with the heater, lights and window defrosters turned off to minimize battery strain.

n Be prepared for an emergency. A vehicle emergency kit should include a first-aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, bottled water, extra blankets, gloves and hat, granola/energy bars, duct tape and a can of Fix-a-Flat.

You never know when you will need these essentials.

n Clean the engine air filter. The engine air filter is a vehicle?s lung. A clean air filter helps the engine combust an optimal air-to-fuel mixture, making it run more smoothly and efficiently.

When your air filter is clogged, your engine has to work harder and therefore is not operating at peak performance.

Check your vehicle owner?s manual to find out when it needs to be replaced.

n Pay attention to oil grade. Motor oil lubricates the engine, keeping it cool and reducing the friction between moving parts. As motor oil circulates, it also cleans away harmful dirt and contaminants.

In general, you should use the lightest grade of oil your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends for the conditions you drive in.

During the winter, this may may mean an even lighter grade than usual. Most vehicle owner?s manual specifies the correct grade of motor oil for your vehicle during certain driving conditions and seasons.

n Keep an eye on tire pressure. Under-inflated tires create extra friction where the rubber meets the road. Improperly inflated tires also wear unevenly, which can impact your vehicle?s traction on the road and possibly lead to a dangerous blowout.

Check your tire pressure regularly and make sure all of them are filled to the correct level?and remember your spare tire, which can lose pressure in the cold.

Proper tire pressure is vehicle-specific. Tire pressure information for a vehicle is found on a decal typically in the vehicle?s door jamb or in the vehicle owner’s manual. Do not follow the pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire, as this number is specific to the tire, not the vehicle. ?ARAcontent

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