Simple car tips gain traction in winter
December 6, 2010 —
Snowflakes in the air signal the start of a new season Ė one that taxes cars more than any other. Between the abrasive salt, the way the cold drains batteries, and the threat of liquids freezing, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
To be prepared for the harsh season, itís a great idea to do a little prep work to ensure that vehicles stay in working order. Outlined below are a few inexpensive tips that will keep a car going, because how many college students have the money for a full tune up or a set of snow tires?
One of the most important parts of a vehicle is the battery, which loses about 30 percent of its capacity in the cold weather because it hasto work harder. If a battery is old, the cold will kill it. The best thing is to have the battery checked, but keeping a pair of jumper cables in the trunk is a good idea regardless of the season.
Other things that the cold influences in an engine are fluids. The main ones are the oil, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid. Winter preparation includes an oil change, checking the antifreeze to make sure its at a 50-50 antifreeze to water mixture and topping off wiper fluid. Now is also a good time to mix in a de-icer in the wiper fluid because a snow storm is a bad time for wiper fluid to freeze on the windshield.
In addition to the fluids in a vehicle changing from the cold, the air in tires also changes pressure by contracting. Too low pressure leads to not enough traction, which becomes more dangerous when thereís ice and slush on the roads. The proper tire pressure can be found in the ownerís manual and topping off tires is easy to do at most gas stations, though a pressure gauge may be needed. This is also a good time to check the spare tire and make sure it includes the necessary tire-changing tools. One thing that most people have been told at some time is to keep the gas tank as full as possible. This is because if itís low, water can condensate in the tank and then leak down into the gas line and freeze. This can be avoided by buying the gas thatís going to be used at some point anyway, or at the very least using an additive like HEET, but too much of it is bad for the fuel line.
The last thing that will be invaluable if itís ever needed is an emergency kit. These are usually relatively small, can sit in the trunk until itís needed, and generally contain items already lying around. It should have energy bars and water, a blanket, warm clothes, a small shovel, a flashlight, the aforementioned jumper cables, and an abrasive material such as kitty litter that can be used for traction if a tire gets stuck in the snow.