Winter car care – auto maintenance

Winter car care – auto maintenance

Your car made it through one of the country’s hottest summers on record, but winter’s around the comer and it’s ready to take aim at your ride if you haven’t properly prepared it for the cold weather.

One of the winter’s most dreaded sounds is the moaning of your car engine when it won’t start. But you can avoid being stranded and stay one step ahead of the hawk if you remember three words–battery, fluids and tires. Keeping these areas of your car properly maintained should keep you on the road and keep wintertime from being a hassle. The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends you follow this winterizing checklist:

* Battery: Check for loose cables and corrosive buildup. Make certain your battery is fully charged because batteries do not recharge as quickly in cold weather. Keep close watch on the battery’s water level. Even some “maintenance-free” batteries may need to be topped off with distilled water to maintain the proper level.

* Ignition system: Check the spark plugs and ignition system. If necessary, replace old spark plugs and clean spark plug mires to restore peak starts.

* Radiator: Test for 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. Fill as needed.

* Windshield washer/wiper blades: Add no-freeze windshield-wiper fluid to reservoir. Replace worn wiper blades.

* Belts: Make sure drive belts are tight but not cracked, glazed or frayed. Belts should not deflect more than half an inch when pushed by your finger.

* Hoses: Check for leaks, bulges or cracks. Make sure clamps are secure.

* Oil, transmission and brake fluid: Change oil and replace oil filter. Oil can become thick and gluey when cold. It should be replaced with winter-weight oil, such as a lighter SAE 5W-30 or SAE 1OW-30, which allows the starter to rotate the engine faster. Follow the recommended viscosity in your owner’s manual. Also read the owner’s manual for the proper way to check your car’s transmission and brake fluid levels.

* Air filter: Replace your air filter every 7,500 miles or when dirty.

* Tires: Tire tread should not be less than 1/16 of an inch for normal tires, or 1/8 of an inch for snow tires. Braking distances can go from 24 feet on dry pavement to 150 feet in icy conditions. Tires can lose a pound of pressure for every 10 degrees of Fahrenheit drop in outside temperature, so check your tire pressure at least once a week to make sure it’s at the manufacturer’s recommended level.

* Driving tips: Avoid driving in ski boots, which can prevent you from operating the foot pedals safely. And remove ice and snow from shoes before entering your car to avoid the risk of slippery pedals. Also clear snow and ice from windows before driving.

* Survival kit: Be sure to keep emergency tools and materials in car. These should include a flashlight, blankets, booster cables, a small shovel, car manual, empty gasoline can and a warning device, such as flares or a reflective triangle.

All the parts of your car are meant to work together aid if one component does not have to compensate for the shortcomings of another, your car should be dependable this winter.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group