Mark Fruci, Contributor

Mark is a no-nonsense writer who always has the time of day.

Winter is coming…..

Well, it’s that time of year again.


A time of change.

The trees begin to change. Shedding their lush, green, warm weather foliage for a magnificent display of vibrant, seemingly endless variations of red, yellow, and orange, they dance in the autumn breeze, looking much like the flames of the bonfires many will huddle around with friends and family soon.

The time changes too. Clocks will “fall back” in a few weeks, and the sun will adjust its course in the sky, bringing shorter days and longer nights. Because of this, many of us will soon be driving to and from work in the dark.

The weather begins to change as well. These changes quickly become apparent just by walking out your front door. Temperatures start dropping, the wind blows colder, and for many of us, a chance of “precipitation” will soon take on a whole new meaning!

Some things that may not be so apparent though are the different challenges and concerns that colder weather brings for your vehicle. Not only driving home in the three inches of snow that came down between lunch and quitting time, but also the different maintenance needs that colder weather brings as well. Trust me, knowing what those needs are ahead of time can save you headache, hassle, time and money. Here’s a list of the top four things to get your vehicle ready for when this winter.

While tires are obviously one of the most important components of your car during any season, this is even more true for winter weather. Maintaining proper tire pressure means a better grip on the road, keeping you, your family, and possibly even other drivers safe! Have your mechanic give your tires a good visual inspection, checking for cracks, tears, cuts, etc., and have them measure the amount of tread left on each tire. Keep in mind, even though 2 mm of tread may pass your state’s annual inspection, that does not mean they are safe for winter weather. If you live in an area prone to snow, sleet, etc., then I personally would consider replacing them at about the 4 mm mark. If you have been nursing along a “slow leak” this summer, now is the time to have it repaired or replaced. Keep in mind that four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles should almost always need to have all four tires replaced at the same time.

Bottom Line: When in doubt, buy the new tires. For most sedans, mini vans, small pickups and SUV’s, you can buy a set of acceptable, safe, good quality tires for not much more than a car payment, and certainly less than the deductible on your insurance claim if you have an accident.
Bonus Pro Tip:
Don’t forget to check the spare tire, and while you’re at it, make sure your jack works. The only thing worse than changing a tire on the side of the road, is doing when it’s 29* out. And snowing…..

Some folks call it “antifreeze”. Others call it “coolant”. Whatever you call it, you need to make sure that yours is ready for winter. Old or dirty coolant means reduced protection. If yours is dirty or discolored, or if you can’t remember the last time you changed it, chances are you should have the system drained or flushed. Even if you think your coolant looks okay, you may want to get it checked anyway. It’s easy to do, in fact many shops perform it as part of a standard checklist at every oil change. Ask them to check it when you bring it in, and then ask them what the reading was. Properly mixed new coolant in a working system should give you protection down to about 34* below zero, but less may be acceptable depending on the weather in your area. If you live in Massachusetts for instance, you need all the protection you can get! If you live here in western North Carolina, maybe not so much.

Bottom Line: Coolant is one of your vehicle’s most vital fluids. Get it flushed, at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer.
Bonus Pro Tip: Don’t assume you can get by because you have milder winters. Chances are you have hotter summers. Coolant does double duty, and extreme heat reduces protection levels as much as cold. Don’t skip the check!

Your battery is also something you must have checked. We rely on it to start our car, which is when the most power is needed. We also rely on it to run all our accessories. That includes radios, lights, the heat and a/c fan, power seats and windows, heated seats, rear defrosters, windshield wipers, and the list goes on. And let’s not forget all the power points we have now for charging our phones, laptops, tablets, and more. Batteries keep working even after we shut our vehicle off as well. That’s why you always know what time it is, and why you can find your favorite radio station!

Bottom Line: Batteries are important every day of the year, and most have a life span of about 5 years or less. When is the last time you had yours tested?
Bonus Pro Tip: Have you ever seen that green and white science experiment that builds up on your battery’s terminals? It’s one of the most common causes of not starting, and usually about a $15 service at most shops. Just say yes!

Last but certainly not least, we have the brake system. One of the most important systems of all, it can also be the most neglected. The composition of today’s brake pads does mean they are lasting longer than ever before, but that also means they are “out of sight, out of mind” until we hear some kind of “noise”.

Bottom Line: The brakes are the only thing stopping your car once you get it rolling, and that job gets tougher with worn pads and rotors, as well during inclement weather. Get them checked now, before you have a problem.
Bonus Pro Tip: Don’t forget about the brake fluid. Just like all your car’s fluids, it has a finite life. Have it tested, and if needed, have it flushed.

While this list is by no means all inclusive, it is a great start to keeping your vehicle running trouble free, not only during the upcoming months, but all year long.

Until next time, Happy Motoring!

Mark Fruci

No comments:

Post a Comment

14 Grammar Myths Your English Teacher Lied to You About

I Start with And, But and So: Anderson likes butter. Butter never satisfied Sophie. Sophie never had a choice. by Juliana LaBian...