Car Time – December 2019

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Winter Driving and Maintenance

    When thinking about winter, do we consider the car, truck or SUV we drive on a daily basis? Probably not.
    We tend to think about how cold and dark it is. However the vehicles we drive also need consideration . Just because we do not live on the East Coast where it snows and freezes doesn’t mean that our drivers are not affected by the weather here. If you do take a trip to the snow it is even more crucial that your vehicle is ready.
    During dry months we are not as concerned about important items like tires and suspension. When your tires are 50 percent you would think that you have 50 percent life left. You don’t want to wait until they are bald.
    The reality is that the best life of your tires is gone. When the tires are 50 percent worn they no longer have the ability to channel water through the treads and are more likely to lose traction and skid out of control.
    When the shocks and struts become worn out they lose their dampening and no longer offer the same control in emergency maneuvers, which is amplified in wet or slippery conditions.
    Many components on your vehicle are affected by cold and moisture, including the battery. Batteries generally last about three years these days. If your car or your battery has that time frame on it, but is still operating, you should have it tested before winter hits. A marginal battery will seem fine until it hits a cold or hot surge.
    Windshield wiper and washer systems are crucial to vision in bad weather. Wiper blades get dried out by the sun and will streak by the time winter hits. You do not know if you have washer fluid in your system until the first time you try to use it. All these items should be checked regularly.
    In case you take a road trip to the snow there are special preparations to take. Everything mentioned above is crucial in freezing weather. There is a special washer fluid that won’t freeze and should be added before you head toward colder weather.
    Tire chains also are a good idea. You should bring an emergency kit that includes items like jumper cables, road flairs and a flash light. You should also bring personal items like blankets and snacks in case you get stuck. Make sure your emergency road service is up to date. And be sure to let friends or family know that you are headed out of town and when you expect to return.
    As usual I implore you to be a good consumer of automotive repair and have your vehicle serviced regularly. Vehicles need attention year around. Drive safely and remember that the weather will affect the reliability of your vehicle and the safety of your family.

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